A child abuse case that captured national attention heads to trial Friday morning, putting a Jupiter husband and father on the stand.
Tim Ferriter and his wife, Tracy Ferriter, are accused of keeping their adopted son in a small structure in their garage for hours at a time, according to detectives. A pretrial hearing took place Tuesday as both sides carved up evidence and witnesses for this contentious trial two years in the making.
Was it a case of child neglect or bad parenting? Was it punishment or simply protection? Defense attorney Prya Murad and the prosecution will have a complex case in front of them to prove whether Tim Ferriter should be found guilty on charges of child abuse and false imprisonment.
“I came outside yesterday and seen all the cops and stuff, but, like, I didn’t think it was something like that. I thought it was, like, maybe they got into a fight,” neighbor Tyler Stiefel said after the couples arrest in February 2022.
The allegations came to light in February 2022 in the upscale Jupiter neighborhood of Egret Landing. The Ferriters are accused of keeping their then-14-year-old adopted son in an 8×8 box in their garage. Jupiter police said it had a mattress, a camera and a bucket that was used as a restroom and he was only allowed out to go to school. The couple was eventually arrested when the teen ran away.
“Both my wife and I were very shocked, especially that it would happen in this neighborhood and us not know anything at all about it,” Larry Ellis, who lives near the couple, told WPTV shortly after their arrests.
Neighbors were appalled. The Ferriters were thrust into the spotlight, facing humiliating charges. Both will be tried separately.
In a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Tim Ferriter rejected a plea deal by the state that would have resulted in 24 months in prison and five years of probation. He now faces 35 years and possibly more.
Murad contends the child was “a medically complex child” and the alleged box was “a room” used for monitoring. The defense intends to show a pattern of troubled behavior, which at the onset of the case showed “dangerous and disturbing propensities,” including attachment disorders.
The Department of Children and Families removed the child and three other children from the home.
It’s now up to a jury to decide the fate of the parents, starting with Tim Ferriter. The trial begins Friday at 10:30 a.m. in the Palm Beach County Courthouse. Judge Howard Coates will be presiding.