A Federal Way man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to second-degree murder in the May 2012
shooting death of Justin Ferrari, a Madrona father who was killed in front of his parents and children by a stray bullet as he drove through an intersection in Seattle’s Central District.

King County prosecutors will ask that Andrew Patterson serve just over 19 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 23, said spokesman Dan Donohoe. The sentence recommendation includes a five-year firearms enhancement, he said.

Patterson, who just turned 21, does not have any previous felony convictions, court records show. The standard sentence range for second-degree murder with a firearms enhancement is roughly 15 to 23 years.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Patterson’s “irrational and erratic use of deadly force” endangered everyone in the neighborhood.

“The random, tragic and senseless death of Justin Ferrari was the result of this defendant’s decision to use a gun to settle a petty dispute,” Satterberg said.

According to charging documents, Patterson fired at someone across Cherry Street, at the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Way, after another man refused to give him a cigarette and traded insults with Patterson and a couple other young men.

Ferrari, a 43-year-old software engineer, and youth water-polo coach had gone out around 4:30 p.m. on May 24, 2012, to pick up a few things before heading out of town with his physician wife for their first weekend alone since the births of their children, who were then 5 and 7.

His parents had flown to Seattle from California that day to watch the kids.

Gunfire erupted after Ferrari’s van came to a stop at the intersection, then started rolling west, police said at the time.

Ferrari’s children got out and ran into a nearby Ethiopian restaurant, a spot where their family had dined before, to ask for help. Ferrari’s father cradled his son in his arms as he died, authorities said.

Ferrari’s death — the 15th in Seattle in 2012 — was part of a spate of random violence that sickened the city. A month earlier, 21-year-old Nicole Westbrook, a culinary student who had just moved to Seattle, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Pioneer Square. Then on July 1, 2012, 21-year-old Sherry Soth was gunned down as she was leaving a house party in South Seattle.

Like Ferrari, Westbrook and Soth were not the gunman’s intended targets, police said at the time. Westbrook and Soth’s homicides remain unsolved.

Patterson was arrested
almost two months after Ferrari’s death, after homicide and gang detectives identified him as the gunman from witness accounts and video-surveillance footage from a Metro bus. Patterson, who wore his hair in corn rows, was wearing a distinct red jacket, red shoes and diamond-shaped earrings, according to charging documents.

Criminal-defense attorney Aimee Sutton, who represents Patterson, said Tuesday her client — the father of a 1½-year-old girl — wants to take responsibility for committing a “terrible crime.”

“His life is irrevocably changed and his daughter’s life is irrevocably changed, not to mention Mr. Ferrari’s children who had that horrible experience of seeing their father shot in front of them,” Sutton said. “He thinks of them because, of course, he thinks of his own daughter, too.”

Patterson, she said, never intended for an innocent passer-by to be hurt or killed and is “terribly remorseful.”

“We are hopeful it provides some measure of solace to Mr. Ferrari’s family and helps them find closure,” without having to go through the trauma of a trial, Sutton said of Patterson’s guilty plea.

“He’s one of the sweetest kids and he’s not had an easy life,” she said. “He did something stupid … (and) he’s sorry.”

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654