When Justin Ferrari was felled by an errant bullet on a Seattle street on May 24, 2012, he was a 42-year-old man with a life of opportunities and dreams stretching out before him.
When his killer, Andrew Jermain Patterson, 21, is released from prison 23 years from now, he will be 44 years old and will have his own lifetime of opportunities before him.
It is the hope of Justin Ferrari’s family that the man who has caused them an immeasurable amount of pain and sorrow use this opportunity to turn his life in a new direction and rectify his senseless crime with positive changes.
“You will have the chance for a life much longer than Justin’s,” said Jeani Ferrari at the sentencing hearing for the man who claimed the life of her eldest child. “I wish you the opportunity to change your life’s direction – to reflect, to learn the value of life – yours, your daughter’s and the lives of strangers. You still have the opportunity to be a role model to your daughter and to others.
“For our family and friends – Justin’s friends and co-workers – there is no good outcome for such a considerate man being senselessly killed. For you, your family and friends, there can be a good outcome. If you leave prison a changed man, for the better, the world will be a better place. That’s what our family hopes for you. Hopefully, that’s what you seek for yourself,” said Jeani Ferrari.
Jeani Ferrari’s words of encouragement came at the conclusion of a tragedy so horrifying it left two communities hundreds of miles apart bewildered and heartbroken.
Patterson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement in July in a Seattle courtroom. He was sentenced last week to 23 years — the maximum term that could be imposed.
On that fateful afternoon in May, Patterson was standing outside a deli with two other men and they got involved in an argument with another man after trying to get some cigarettes from him, according to the probable cause document filed with the court. Expletives and taunts were hurled out by both sides and the man turned to leave, which is when he says he heard “a metallic click.”
An angry Patterson responded to the war of words by pulling out a loaded gun and opening fire there on the busy Seattle street.
Witnesses described to investigators seeing a man, later identified as Patterson, running northbound and firing wildly behind him. The witnesses said three shots were fired.
One of the bullets found Justin Ferrari, who was driving with his mother, father and two young children in the vehicle. The bullet struck him in the head and he died at the scene.
The senseless death of Justin Ferrari, who was a software engineer at Zillow, shocked the Seattle area, which had seen a number of increasingly violent gang altercations. Vigils were held and pressure to capture the offender mounted.
There were multiple witnesses to the shooting and they all gave similar descriptions of the shooter. Investigators were able to obtain video footage and stills from various sources and through some dogged detective work were able to put a name to the shooter. A little less than two months after the shooting, Patterson was arrested for Justin Ferrari’s murder.
Patterson, who had prior arrests for assault, burglary and possession of a firearm, was in court nine days prior to the shooting for a domestic violence charge and was ordered to not be in possession of any firearms.
The prosecution was seeking a 19 year sentence for Patterson, while the defense, citing Patterson’s remorse and admitted culpability, sought a term of 13 years. Ultimately, Judge Michael Hayden sentenced Patterson to the maximum of 23 years.
“You killed a man in front of his family because you couldn’t follow a court order,” Hayden said at the hearing, according to the video coverage from kirotv.com
In her victim’s impact statement, Jeani Ferrari recalled her son as a man who cared for his community and who made “choices that made the world a little better.”
Justin Ferrari’s connection to community began in his roots as a young child in Turlock. He spent his summers working on the family farm, where he developed a lifelong passion for the environment and how to better serve it.
“Justin's lifestyle, major work and charitable contributions were focused on slowing and, one day, reversing climate change,” Jeani Ferrari said. “In honoring our son, our family supports RAN (Rainforest Action Network). In honoring our son, we try to make choices that support a healthy planet and respect human rights; we believe in the power of one.”