By GRACE WONG
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — The jury of three men and three women deliberated for 4.5 hours before finding Tim Ferriter guilty of all charges, including the top count of aggravated child abuse for routinely locking his adopted son in a windowless room with no bathroom as a form of punishment for misbehaving.
Ferriter remained stoic as the guilty verdicts were read and the jurors were polled. After the judge excused the jury, Ferriter stood up and reached over to hug his wife, Tracy, one last time before being remanded into the custody of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. While Tim waited in the courtroom under the supervision of deputies to be fingerprinted, handcuffed, and escorted out, his wife Tracy looked on, wiping away tears, clearly devastated by the jury’s decision.
Tracy Ferriter remains free on bond awaiting trial on the same charges her husband was convicted of.
Tim and Tracy Ferriter lost custody of all four of their children after their arrest on charges related to confining their adopted son, RF, to an 8×8 room in the garage with only a bucket for a toilet. Prosecutors argued the Ferriters’ treatment of the victim amounted to solitary confinement and psychological torture, which would have only exacerbated his behavioral problems.
RF was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and had been abandoned at a Vietnamese orphanage as a 7-month-old baby before the Ferriters adopted him at 17 months old. His symptoms included a lack of impulse control and persistent behavioral issues which the Ferriters addressed by taking extreme measures to restrict his movement in the house: keeping him locked in a room in the garage for 14 to 18 hours a day, controlling the lights from outside the room, and forbidding him from touching the air conditioner.
The jurors requested a review of the victim’s sister’s testimony before reaching their verdict. FF, who was a year older than the victim, testified that when they lived in Arizona, she had seen her father grab her brother by the neck and haul him into his room where she heard sounds of slapping and hitting, as well as her brother’s screams. The jury heard again how she feared her father would accidentally kill her brother, and when she grew old enough to understand the nature of his treatment of him – she realized the word for it was “abuse.”
Before reviewing FF’s testimony, the judge learned of a mishap in the deliberation room. Jurors viewed an exhibit that had been ruled inadmissible, but which had inadvertently been included in a defense thumb drive. Another mistake occurred when the jury was given the wrong verdict form, which did not contain the lesser charge of child neglect.
The Ferriters’ teenage daughters were present for closing arguments but were not in the courtroom for the verdict.
Aggravated child abuse, a first-degree felony, exposes Ferriter to a prison sentence of up to 40 years. In an interview with Court TV Correspondent Julia Jenae, Tim Ferriter’s Attorney Prya Murad said Florida’s sentencing guidelines suggest a minimum of 35 months. Prosecutor Brianna Coakley did not say what she would recommend as punishment when Ferriter returns to the courtroom in November for sentencing.