Andrew Patterson turned toward the family of the man he killed and read from a sheet of notebook paper.
“This is my first felony I ever had,” the 21-year-old sobbed. “I take all responsibilities for my actions on May 24, 2012. I never meant to kill no one.”
The victim, 43-year-old software engineer Justin Ferrari, was hit by a bullet that Patterson intended for another man. Ferrari was driving
with his children, ages 4 and 7, and his parents when he was struck by gunfire at the intersection at East Cherry Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
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“I feel sorry and sad for Justin Ferrari’s family and for my family because there’s pain on both sides,” the tearful Patterson said Friday moments before a King County judge handed down a sentence even longer than that sought by prosecutors.
After learning he faced more than 23 years in prison, Patterson’s tearful demeanor changed. After Ferrari’s family had left the courtroom, the man with “Payed in Full” tattooed on his neck turned toward his own family and friends and said, “I get out when I’m 41. That’s (expletive) up.”
The long sentence not only surprised Patterson, whose attorney had asked for a prison term of 13 years for second-degree murder. It also exceeded the 19-year sentence sought by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole.
In setting the high sentence, Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden excoriated Patterson for involving himself in gang violence and using a handgun when he was barred from possessing one.
Prosecutors say Patterson was shooting at someone who had insulted his gang when Ferrari was struck by a stray bullet.
“I fear for gang violence,” Hayden said. “I do not believe Mr. Patterson was acting in self-defense. He was acting as a lot of gang members do, with chutzpah and youthful indiscretion.”
Defense lawyer Aimee Sutton had said Patterson suffers from learning disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder from a difficult upbringing. Patterson, she said, also deserved leniency because he willingly met with Ferrari’s widow, Dr. Maggie Hooks, in August to hear her read a statement about what the loss has meant to her and her two children.
The unusual meeting between the killer and victim’s wife was requested by Hooks and was inspired by a similar sit-down between a Florida family and the man who had killed their daughter.
Hayden said that what troubled him the most about Patterson is that nine days before the shooting another judge had barred him from carrying a firearm as part of a domestic-violence protection order involving his girlfriend.
“You killed a man in front of his family because you couldn’t follow a court order,” Hayden said.
Hooks didn’t speak during the hearing and declined to comment through her attorney. Ferrari’s parents and sister also declined to comment about the sentence, but during the sentencing hearing his mother and sister had sharp words for Patterson.
Jeani Ferrari was riding in the van when the bullet struck her son. She remembered her eldest as a dedicated father, someone who was committed to doing good in his community
“My husband and I know life will never be the same. Without Justin, we wonder whether life will be good again,” she said.
Jeani Ferrari said she struggles with depression and worries about how her grandchildren will cope.
“They will not have their father to love and guide them. They will have to live with the horror of witnessing their father’s violent death,” she testified.
Witnesses told police that Patterson and three other men had been at a deli just before the shooting when one of the men insulted Patterson, prompting him to pull out a gun and fire. The bullet missed its intended target and hit Ferrari, who police said died in his father’s arms.
Jeani Ferrari told Patterson that society should be protected from people who would walk down a neighborhood street and use a gun.
“You still have the opportunity to be a role model for your daughter and others,” she said, referring to Patterson’s 2-year-old child. “If you leave prison a changed man for the better, the world will be a better place.”
According to court records, Patterson has a prior arrest record that includes juvenile charges for third-degree theft, residential burglary and criminal trespass. He has never been convicted of a felony as an adult in King County, although he was arrested in April 2011 for possession of a controlled substance. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor criminal solicitation, court records show.
Patterson’s mother, Sherry Patterson, said her son is “a good kid” who was “brought up pretty good.”
“He made a mistake. He didn’t intentionally go out to find this man, to kill him,” she said tearfully.
“It’s just very heartbreaking that we’re all in this situation. We all lost something.”
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.