Mad River Union
EUREKA – Arcata murder suspect Juan-Joseph Ferrer, 36, testified today, April 29 that he felt a “really deep sense of pity” when he learned that Abruzzi chef Douglas-Anderson Jordet had died from a stab wound Ferrer inflicted in the early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2013.
Asked by his defense counsel Marek I. Reavis, “When you learned that Mr. Anderson-Jordet had died at your hands,” what feelings of regret did you experience, Ferrer replied, “Well, you know one thing that kind of makes my remorse, I would say odd” is that it is mixed every day in jail with expressions of support from corrections officers who “have told me they’re praying for me.”
Before the defendant could explain what he meant, Deputy District Attorney Roger C. Rees interjected with an objection and Superior Court Judge John Feeney ruled the statement to be stricken from the record.
Reavis re-stated the question, asking, “What feelings did you have about Mr. Anderson-Jordet after you had time to reflect” on his death?
Ferrer: “Just that really deep sense of pity. I think he was at a really bad point in his life [at that time in 2013]. I think I would have been a good friend of his.”
Some minutes before, Ferrer had testified that his cousin in Alaska had been raped and murdered, an uncle had drowned and he had lost friends in other tragic circumstances.
Correspondingly, Ferrer told the court, “I know how it is to lose someone at the hands of someone else. How much it tears people up.”
Reavis pursued the subject of Ferrer’s emotions on re-direct shortly after Rees challenged the suspect’s demeanor during his long-planned Thanksgiving holiday in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Sophie Rocheleau, three days after Anderson-Jordet died. She was one of Ferrer’s two companions in the early morning when they clashed with Anderson-Jordet, who succumbed to a stab wound 3.5 inches deep that punctured his heart. Ferrer claims his death was accidental.
The prosecutor showed Ferrer, the 12 jurors and the five alternate jurors a Facebook photograph of the defendant taken by Rocheleau at a novelty shop in Japan Town in San Francisco. The two also attended a concert, went shopping and enjoyed a holiday dinner .
Ferrer had testified the previous day in his first appearance on the witness stand that the confrontation just north of 11th and H Street the Monday before Thanksgiving had “ruined” what had been intended as a celebratory weekend in the city.
Boring in, Rees asked, “What part of your weekend was ruined?”
“It all was.” Ferrer explained that he was “keeping a game face on” as a social obligation, to avoid ruining the weekend for others. That was why he was out and about.
Holding the Facebook photograph in front of Ferrer on his second appearance on the stand April 29, the deputy district attorney inquired in a mocking tone if the picture Rocheleau had requested of her boyfriend “was taken during your ‘ruined’ weekend.’” The picture was posted under “Repo Man” and Ferrer posed in sunglasses and what appeared to be his customary punk Goth attire.
Responding to Rees’s evident attempt to portray him to the jury as a cavalier man-about-town who enjoyed himself in frivolous pursuits only days after having allegedly killed a man, Ferrer replied that on that Thanksgiving weekend, based on media reports he had read or been told about, he was uncertain whether Anderson-Jordet had been the man he encountered. A second stabbing in Arcata had been reported at about the same time, Ferrer testified, and he didn’t know which victim was which.
In fact, he claimed, he had no idea until he was arrested on Dec. 4, 2013 that Anderson-Jordet was the person he had confronted early on Nov. 25.
Under re-direct, Reavis drew testimony from his client in a bid to dilute the impression the prosecutor had sought to convey to the jury that Ferrer had been skylarking with his long-time girlfriend in San Francisco without a care in the world. Ferrer said the media’s description of Anderson-Jordet had been vague and “nothing was solidified that he was the guy” he encountered. It was the doubt hanging over him about who had died, and whether he was responsible, that spoiled the weekend.
Reports that the victim was 50 years old were confusing, Ferrer claimed, because he believed the man who confronted him for no apparent reason seemed much younger, possibly in his 20’s or 30’s. The reported description of the chef did not fit with Ferrer’s recollection of the individual who accosted him. “I didn’t think a 50-year-old chef went around causing problems like that,” he testified.
As for the prosecutor’s attempt to capture the whole of his person with a single photograph, Ferrer retorted somewhat testily, or in frustration with the Rees’s tone and line of questioning, “People are more complex than that” and “Life isn’t linear.” He rejected Rees’s apparent characterization as reductionist and distorted.
The prosecutor introduced the Facebook photograph in connection with one of his overarching themes in the second-degree murder case, that Ferrer is an untrustworthy witness who, for example, lied repeatedly in his initial interview with police after his arrest and therefore has every reason to lie again in court to avert a potential life sentence in prison. As the trial opened, Rees marshaled police interview recordings, Ferrer’s text messages and a PowerPoint of the defendant’s statements to police to hack away at the defendant’s credibility. Ferrer has admitted, without equivocation, lying repeatedly.
Prompted by his lawyer, Ferrer asserted again on April 29 that he “did not intend to stab” Anderson-Jordet, “did not intend to kill him” and did not confront him because of the victim’s rage and name-calling.
To the contrary, Ferrer reiterated, he acted only in self-defense because he felt physically threatened; he brandished his pocket knife against his alleged assailant strictly as a warning to him to cease and desist. But when Anderson-Jordet allegedly struck him in the head and they collided, “the knife went into his chest,” in the defendant’s words.
Rocheleau succeeded her boyfriend on the stand, testifying she has known Ferrer about eight years. She affirmed pleading guilty last fall to a reduced misdemeanor charge in connection with roughing up Anderson-Jordet when the sidewalk confrontation occurred just north of the Vintage Avenger shop in downtown Arcata. She testified that Ferrer and Anderson-Jordet mutually approached each other. “Eventually they were face-to-face,” but she said she didn’t see the knife.
Rocheleau was aware Ferrer used a knife occasionally for "utility" purposes, and he had testified previously that he had it with him that early morning because he had used it the previous afternoon to cut fishing line for sewing band patches on his punk Goth apparel.
Although Rocheleau did not see the folding pocket knife or what happened in detail, “It looked to me as though Joey [Ferrer] punched Anderson-Jordet.” She said, “Joey appeared to be scared” based on his body language and “Anderson-Jordet was definitely approaching in a hostile manner.” (Ferrer claims Anderson-Jordet struck him first, with a fist blow to the side of his head.)
Rocheleau backed Ferrer’s prior testimony that Anderson-Jordet fell down and that “he sprang right up again.” As Ferrer stepped away after the two collided, Rocheleau struck the dead man on his lower chest, “not hard,” and “he stumbled down again.”
“It surprised me that he did,” she added, “because I didn’t feel like I hit him hard.”
Then Anderson-Jordet began kicking “at me, at my legs,” Rocheleau continued. “I kicked him back briefly, just like [on] his feet or shins and then my shoe fell off.”
Rocheleau said Anderson-Jordet was still standing and still yelling as she, Ferrer and companion Nicholas Stoiber, who punched the victim in the mouth, retreated up H Street together toward Wildberries Marketplace, where they turned left on 12th Street.
“I did not consider it three against one,” Rocheleau said, without explaining why.
When she glanced back toward Vintage Avenger just before entering 12th Street, Anderson-Jordet continued his “incoherent yelling,” she told the court.
The trial is scheduled to resume May 6, when Rocheleau will continue her testimony.