“I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words toward anyone.”
– Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy
Mad River Union
EUREKA – The man who at trial publicly accused his stabbing victim of “acting like a rabid jackal” privately vilified his prey as a “motherfucker,” “stupid fucking asshole,” “fucking cock” and “fucking creep.”
This retrograde, transgressive language was employed in prison phone calls by Juan Joseph Ferrer, 36, of Arcata, who was sentenced last week to the maximum 12 years in prison for killing Abruzzi kitchen manager Douglas Anderson-Jordet, 50, also of Arcata, in 2013.
Ferrer insisted both on the witness stand in May and at his June 15 sentencing, “I am very remorseful” and “I am very sorry about what happened that night with Doug.”
But transcripts of the convicted Ferrer’s cell phone calls to his grandmother and girlfriend, placed in the record last week, belie his claims of remorse. They document Ferrer stating, “I am not sorry for what I did, I’m only sorry for my family, I don’t give a fuck about anything else, man.”
Further: “I have to show remorse [in court] and I don’t really know how to do that. You know what I mean, it’s been a year and a half [since the November 2013 killing]; you know, I’m kind of over it, ha ha ha.”
Post-verdict on May 18, Ferrer was recorded laughing and boasting that he had eluded conviction on the second degree murder charge for which he had been tried. The call transcript states in full:
“I mean that’s good, cause I mean, like, I didn’t murder him, but I did fucking kill him, ha ha ha, you know what I mean. Like I beat a murder, I beat a murder trial in fucking Humboldt County, a murder trial, and I fucking, and I actually killed the motherfucker [boldface in official text]. You know what I mean, like, fucking, I got love.”
Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees said in his sentencing memorandum that Ferrer made the jail calls using another inmate’s name and pin number; illegally interfered with the judicial process during a May 8 call when he coached his grandmother’s impending testimony, and unwittingly revealed that “he only cares about himself” when he responded on the witness stand to his own lawyer’s questions about his emotional reactions to Anderson-Jordet’s death:
“Well, you know, I got to say that one thing that kind of makes my remorse – I would say the thing that makes it – it’s very odd, but what would – what makes this seem – what makes me feel bad and bad about it more every day is the fact how much support I’m getting from a lot of the jail staff and lot of the inmates in here.”
Of this halting response, Rees said Ferrer only cares about how the killing “has affected him.” The defendant showed “no regret, no remorse and no feelings for Douglas or Douglas’s family members.”
Rees argued that Ferrer’s lack of imaginative empathy for Anderson-Jordet was on display from the perpetrators’ Facebook posting of “Violent Punk Night” right after the slaying; from Ferrer’s evident enjoyment of a trip with his girlfriend to San Francisco the Thanksgiving weekend after the killing, attending concerts, frequenting novelty shops, posing for photos in his Goth punk garb and going out for holiday dinner, and from a pre-slaying picture of him gloating and mugging with a handgun pointed at a camera.
That jejune photo lays bare the fact that “the defendant is a violent person, not the peaceful person he claims to be when it suits him,” Rees said in his sentencing memo, referring to Ferrer’s self-proclaimed Buddhism.
The court blocked showing the handgun pose to the jury, Rees acknowledged, but “the court can and should consider it in determining the appropriate sentence.”
Last week’s phone call disclosures marked another inflection point in Ferrer’s long waylaid case, in which he professed to feel “a really deep sense of pity” for Anderson-Jordet.
At trial the defendant said he believed Anderson-Jordet was “a man who was at a really bad point in his life” when Ferrer stabbed him to death three days before Thanksgiving in 2013. The apparently spontaneous killing was the culmination of a burst of tit-for-tat verbal abuse in a sidewalk clash on H Street between the Vintage Avenger resale shop and Wildberries Marketplace north of the Arcata Plaza.
The stab wound to the unarmed Anderson-Jordet was brutal: it pierced his chest to a depth of 3.5 inches and punctured the right ventricle of his heart, which was shown in a close-up autopsy photo in court.
At last week’s sentencing, Ferrer made a fleeting but pointed reference to Anderson-Jordet’s “past heroin addiction” – stigmatizing the chef and musician with an unsubstantiated assertion. The court had heard testimony, as had Ferrer, that police found no drugs in the victim’s apartment and a pathologist detected no track marks on his body.
Yet, with the court and Anderson-Jordet’s tearful relatives listening, Ferrer sullied his victim’s reputation even as he claimed to be sorry about what had happened.
As Judge John T. Feeney listened attentively, the convicted Ferrer repeated in his final statement to the court that he and his victim might have been friends had they known each other.
The combination of the defendant’s trial testimony pitying his victim and his sentencing statement patronizing him echoed the mordant quip of English essayist Sir Max Beerbohm, “Pity is little sister to contempt.”
Abruzzi owner Chris Smith attended the sentencing and said of Ferrer afterward, “I think he wanted to appear vulnerable, as a victim as well as the assailant. I was not surprised he said that he and Doug would have been friends; in associating himself with Doug as a similar human being, I think he was attempting to elicit sympathy from the judge and somehow ingratiate himself with Doug’s family.”
If those were Ferrer’s intentions, he failed. Neither the family nor the prosecutor was persuaded. Nor was Judge Feeney, who leveled the maximum sentence of 12 years, followed by three years of probation.
Feeney said, “I do find that Mr. Anderson-Jordet was the initiator of the incident.” But he hastened to add that the victim had been particularly vulnerable because he was by himself in a confrontation with three people.
Uniformly dispassionate and elaborately courteous throughout the trial, the judge declared, “I cannot in good conscience grant probation to Mr. Ferrer” because he acted with “a high degree of callousness, viciousness and cruelty.”
Anderson-Jordet’s sister-in-law, Patty Anderson, said Ferrer “fits the classic definition of a sociopath, and I fear for the residents of Humboldt County if this man gets anything less than a 12-year sentence.”
She concluded, “Douglas was the one killed this time, but if it could happen to someone like him, it could be anyone who is unlucky enough to cross paths with a drunk, angry and armed Juan Ferrer.”