Mad River Union
EUREKA – The nucleus of the Juan Joseph Ferrer murder case came to light in the courtroom today, April 28 when the 36-year-old defendant testified under oath, “I believe the knife went into his chest when he [the victim, Douglas Anderson-Jordet] was up against me and I pushed him off.”
Ferrer did not explicitly allege that Anderson-Jordet fell on the knife, as his lawyer, Marek I. Reavis, has contended all long. Instead the weapon “went into his chest” as if on its own.
Ferrer insists the death was accidental. He intended to deter Anderson-Jordet from advancing toward him, to avert physical contact, not to kill him, he claims.
Notably the phrase “went into his chest” does not distinguish whether Ferrer deployed his knife actively in a forward, aggressive motion or whether Anderson-Jordet advanced on the weapon in his reputed drunken rage – or both.
Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees did not zero in on the distinction in his first 45 minutes of cross-examining Ferrer, which is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning, April 29.
In nearly two-and-a-half hours of detailed testimony April 28 under questioning by Conflict Counsel Reavis, Ferrer narrated from his sole perspective the sequence of events in the early morning of Nov. 25, 2013. He and two companions clashed with Anderson-Jordet in an apparently spontaneous street encounter that led to the Abruzzi kitchen manager’s death from a 3.5 inch stab wound to the heart.
Testifying on his own behalf for the second day in a row, Ferrer recalled that he and his friends, girlfriend Sophie Rocheleau, now 25, and Nicholas Stoiber, now 29, left Everett’s Club opposite Arcata Plaza at about closing time and headed to H Street, where they proceeded north. They had arrived at Everett’s between midnight and 12:30, after first visiting the Alibi. Ferrer said he had “a couple of shots, a couple of beers” at their first stop.
Rocheleau found the Alibi too loud, so the three went on to Everett’s, where they lingered “about an hour.” Ferrer had a pint of beer there.
Taking a break, Ferrer went to a smoking area in back of Everett’s where he saw a man who, it emerged later, might have been Anderson-Jordet. “He looked at me,” Ferrer said. “I just noticed he was there. He stared at me but he didn’t say anything.” Ferrer acknowledged him momentarily as he walked by. “I just thought he was really drunk and he didn’t have no response.”
As for himself, Ferrer said when the three left Everett’s through the front door, “I had a pretty good buzz on” but “didn’t feel intoxicated.” He said girlfriend Rocheleau was “a little bit” drunk, but she was not slurring her words. “We were at more or less the same level” of intoxication, he testified.
Heading north on H Street in single file, Stoiber led the trio, Rocheleau was behind him and Ferrer brought up the rear. As they walked along, Stoiber turned around at one juncture and Rocheleau sprinted a few steps to catch up with him, according to Ferrer.
Suddenly hearing shouts, Ferrer thought transients on the Plaza were in a fight, a common occurrence in the wee hours, he suggested.
More or less at the same time, “the first thing that changed, the first thing I heard, the first thing I noticed, was I looked up and Sophie and Nick were not in front of me no more.”
Simultaneously an unidentified individual was “still cursing,” employing verbiage that Ferrer had attributed at first to transients.
In an aside, Ferrer mentioned that as the trio walked up H Street, he was daydreaming about a forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday trip to San Francisco. He was pleasantly distracted, strolling along the sidewalk in a happy reverie about the prospect of the trip south and visiting Rocheleau’s family.
Abruptly, Ferrer “put A and B” together, as he put it, realizing the unidentified individual apparently had been behind him walking up H on the opposite east side of the street, past RE/MAX Realty, even as Ferrer and his friends were proceeding toward the Humboldt Clothing Company on the west side. Anderson-Jordet and the trio were captured on surveillance videos at the business establishments on opposite sides of the street.
Catching on suddenly to what seemed to be unfolding, Ferrer said he looked over his right shoulder to his right, directing his gaze at two o’clock as he walked facing north. An alleged epithet became discernible. “What do we have, a couple of fucking faggots and their fat bitch girlfriend?!”
Ferrer testified that as he turned to look at the stranger and twig what was up, Anderson-Jordet was headed into the middle of H Street on a diagonal approach to him.
“He looks at me really menacing,” Ferrer tells Reavis and the court, adding that in those few seconds the stranger had his hands in his pockets. “He’s keeping his composure pretty good, he was going pretty fast, faster than I was,” meaning their respective walking paces, Ferrer said.
“He continues to yell things,” according to the defendant. The feeling or the impression he got from the epithets and their tone was “Yeah, I’m fucking talking to you.”
These were not specific threats, as before, Ferrer remembered. “He was just screaming in a tirade, expressing contempt and disgust for us.”
Ferrer retorted, “Hey, fuck you too!”
“I was still walking along the sidewalk, I wasn’t walking as fast [as he was],” he testified.
From this point, Ferrer said, Anderson-Jordet was quickly approaching him on the west side of H Street in a physical attitude that Ferrer interpreted as an imminent action to close the sidewalk off to him.
At first “I think he’s going to walk away, but then he turns and walks toward me” in front of the Vintage Avenger shop with the tub out front.
Now they are both on the sidewalk, according to Ferrer, an estimated 10 to 12 feet apart. “Yes, he made eye contact with me, checking his footing as well,” Ferrer tells the jury.
Anderson-Jordet allegedly exclaims, “I’ll fucking kill you, I’ll fuck that fat bitch up!” or “I’ll shut that fat bitch up!”
“That’s when I got scared,” Ferrer told the court. “I didn’t have time to be angry or get enraged. It really happened that fast. Now he’s face-to-face with me, I don’t know where Sophie and Nick are, his hand is in his right pocket. I pull out my pocket knife, I extended it in front of me to show him I’m armed.”
“Get the fuck away from me!” Ferrer orders Anderson-Jordet, or possibly, “All right, that’s enough you fucking lunatic, stay back!”
But Anderson-Jordet allegedly continued cursing, undaunted. Ferrer told jurors that, by brandishing his knife, “I was hoping that’s the end of it. All I was trying to do was get him to stay away from me.”
Given how bold Anderson-Jordet was, in Ferrer’s view, and given that his adversary had one hand in his right pocket, Ferrer surmised in micro-seconds that his alleged tormentor might be packing “a piece on him.”
“He came right up to me and he hits me on the side of my head with his right hand,” the defendant alleges.
His fear and adrenalin pumping, Ferrer said he didn’t see or feel the blow. It wasn’t that heavy. “Simultaneously he runs into me, it was almost as if he was trying to run me into the ground.”
At this stage in the testimony, Ferrer and defense counsel Reavis moved into the well of the court, Reavis acting as the surrogate Anderson-Jordet. They re-enacted how the confrontation unfolded, based on Ferrer’s recollections.
After running into Ferrer, Anderson-Jordet fell to the sidewalk on his backside, sat there momentarily, shook his head left and right as if trying to clear it, then whirled around some 360 degrees and, in Ferrer’s words, “popped right back up for another round.” Anderson-Jordet supposedly blurted out defiantly, “That’s all you got, motherfucker?!”
Having drawn his knife, claiming to be dazed and in shock from the encounter during and afterward, Ferrer remembered nonetheless, “Yes, I did believe he was cut.” That is, “the knife went into his chest.”
In Tuesday’s testimony at least, Ferrer made no attempt to justify his actions as pure, straightforward self-defense, as enunciated by Reavis. Rather, the defendant was emphatic that he simply wanted to deter Anderson-Jordet, to get him to cease and desist. Ferrer was adamant that he never suspected his adversary might be mortally wounded, because he got right back up after they collided. According to Ferrer, the victim went on screaming invective as Ferrer, Rocheleau and Stoiber left the scene and headed north again for 12th and H Streets and homeward.
Conversing as they walked, Ferrer said he told his friends, “I think I might have accidentally stabbed him.” They sought to reassure him he had not, but he was not persuaded.
Abruptly, Ferrer realized he was still carrying an open knife in his hand and he tossed it over his shoulder, “maybe into some bushes,” he didn’t remember how far down 12th Street. The authorities never recovered it. “It was just a reflex to toss the knife,” he claimed. He professed not to have seen any blood on it in the dark of early morning.
As the three recalled what had just happened, “we were crying about it,” Ferrer testified. “Nick started crying. I hugged him.”
Ferrer said Stoiber asked spontaneously, “What the fuck was that about; what was his problem, what was his trip?
Ferrer remarked plaintively, “It happened so fast, so unexpectedly.”
Prosecutor Rees minced no words as he began cross-examining the accused, taking aim at Ferrer with the state’s principal argument for a verdict of guilty, that he had no business employing lethal force in response to mere name-calling, however virulent.
Did Anderson-Jordet have a gun? Rees queried.
“No gun,” Ferrer answered tersely.
Did he have a knife?
Did he pick up a stick or a rock?
No stick, no rock.
Ferrer is slated to return to the stand Wednesday, possibly to be followed by Rocheleau.