Mad River Union
EUREKA – Arcata murder suspect Juan Joseph Ferrer, 36, “ran and hid” after he allegedly stabbed an Arcata chef to death in the very early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2013.
Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees made the accusation in his opening statement today, April 21, the first day of Ferrer’s long-delayed trial.
Without video surveillance cameras, Rees told jurors pointedly, “We never would have known the defendant was responsible for Doug’s death,” a reference to the deceased, Douglas Anderson-Jordet, 50. He had moved from Minnesota and had worked about 15 months at Abruzzi in Arcata as a chef and kitchen manager.
Added Rees, “The defendant never came forward to explain why Mr. Anderson-Jordet had to be killed” prior to his arrest more than a week after the slaying.
Rees charged that Ferrer did not stand his ground, as his lawyer claims, but instead disposed of his knife, which was never found, and fled. He failed to inform police of the encounter, did not notify emergency services and did not attempt to determine if the victim was seriously wounded, Rees declared.
When paramedics arrived, Ferrer was not present to explain to them in what way Anderson-Jordet might be at risk of his life. The knife wound penetrated the dead man’s heart, Rees told the court.
Ferrer “left him to die in the street,” the deputy district attorney said bluntly.
Rees used Ferrer’s post-arrest statements to Arcata police to portray the suspect as a liar and a dissimulator who sought to avoid coming forward and taking responsibility for his lethal action against a lone, unarmed victim who did no more than shout curse words at Ferrer and his two companions on H Street in downtown Arcata.
Marshaling police interview recordings, Ferrer’s text messages and a Power Point of the defendant’s statements to police, Rees zeroed in immediately on the defendant’s credibility.
Quotes to detectives projected on a courtroom wall showed Ferrer answering a hypothetical question about the appropriate use of lethal force: “Nobody should die for, you know, hurling an insult maybe” and “Maybe be bitch-slapped or something.”
At other points, Ferrer said, “I wasn’t attacked though,” then, “And I didn’t have to defend myself.”
Text messages obtained by police include:
• “Long as that weapon don’t come up I think we are cool.”
• “Only my sister aside from you and soph and my fam are gangster no snitching.”
• “You think we’re clear?”
• “Clear enough. Not (cq) witnesses besides us.”
• “Word thanks brother.”
The pronoun “we” refers to Ferrer and his companions that night, Sophie Rocheleau, 25, and Nicholas Stoiber, 29. They pleaded guilty last November to a reduced charge of misdemeanor battery and were sentenced to three years’ probation and court-ordered alcohol and drug reviews. They had been accused of striking Anderson-Jordet and piling on, while Ferrer brandished a knife.
“Soph” in the text message is Rocheleau. “Sister” and “fam” refer to Ferrer’s relatives – he was arrested at his grandmother’s residence, where he looked after her as caregiver.
“Oh man, I wasn’t there,” Ferrer claimed in his initial denial to police, which he subsequently retracted, admitting to his prevarications. In another instance, he confided to his friends that the authorities did not have his DNA or video evidence of the crime – implying he was confident or at least hopeful there was no hard evidence police could tender to charge him.
Ferrer also was quoted by police as saying, “I wasn’t attacked though and I didn’t have to defend myself.”
That statement may prove crucial as the trial proceeds, because the defense attorney’s principal argument for a verdict of not guilty is that Ferrer acted in self-defense when Anderson-Jordet struck the defendant on the side of the head with what Conflict Counsel Marek Reavis called a “haymaker” blow.
In rebutting Rees with a much longer opening statement – 30 minutes-plus – Reavis said the prosecutor employed selective pieces of conversation, failing in his brief opening remarks to tell the whole story of what happened that night.
Reavis outlined in detail the sequence of events leading up to what he called a “tragic accident” – that the allegedly stupefied Anderson-Jordet lost his balance and fell on the knife.
Reavis readily acknowledged that all four parties to the dispute were drunk. He alternately characterized his client as either “fairly drunk” or “very drunk.”
As Reavis has stated publicly before in related court proceedings, Anderson-Jordet’s reported alcohol level was 0.23, almost three times the legal driving limit. He called the late chef “very, very drunk.”
Reavis asserts that Anderson-Jordet shouted, completely unprovoked, “What do we have here? A couple of fucking faggots and their fat bitch girlfriend?”
Reavis said the trio was taken by surprise and frightened by a stranger wearing a black trench coat who inexplicably had launched into a thoroughgoing tirade for no apparent reason.
Far from leaving Anderson-Jordet to die, Reavis recounted, the victim was still ambulatory when Ferrer and his two friends broke away, and he was still shouting at them in threatening terms, along the lines of “I’m still behind you!” or “I’m still following you!”
Ferrer had no idea the stranger had been seriously wounded, Reavis told jurors, nor any knowledge of the fact that after the scuffle, Anderson-Jordet walked up H Street a block or so before collapsing near Wildberries, where he died despite multiple attempts by first-responders to resuscitate him.
“This was an accident,” Reavis admonished jurors again as he concluded his opening remarks. “This was unintentional.”