Both sides agree 'boy in the box' punishment was a mistake. Jury to decide if it was a crime

Both sides agree ‘boy in the box’ punishment was a mistake. Jury to decide if it was a crime

(As originally published with additional photos and videos, Wed, October 11th 2023, 7:17 PM EDT; reporter’s first article here)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (TND) — It’s time for the jury to deliberate whether the Florida father who kept his adoptive son in a box in the family garage is guilty of aggravated child abuse.

First, Timothy Ferriter told the judge he would not take the stand in his own defense.

Then, closing arguments took place and the two sides agreed locking the boy in the 8×8-foot windowless room in the garage with a bucket as the bathroom was a mistake.

”Any person would know. Any reasonable parent would know that this is not acceptable,” assistant state attorney Brianna Copley told the jury. “And a reasonable parent or person would know that this is going to harm.”

The Ferriter parents claimed they had the structure built because they were afraid of what the victim could do to them and their other children. He had behavior issues, and he admitted it on the stand.

But the prosecutor claimed the punishment came out of anger.

Both sides agree 'boy in the box' punishment was a mistake. Jury to decide if it was a crime
Timothy Ferriter listening to closing arguments in his trial after declining to take the stand in his own defense, Oct. 11, 2023. (WPEC)

She reminded the jury, “I asked him about, ‘What would’ve happened if you refused to go in the room?’ and he told you that he would have been physically forced to enter that room.”

Last week, a child psychiatrist testified what happened to the 14-year-old boy was “sadistic punishment while he was in the room.”

Tuesday, even a defense expert witness called it “very inappropriate.”

And the young victim, who’s now 16 testified, “Being locked in a room is dehumanizing.”

The prosecution was able to suppress details of his aggression and violence, so the jury never heard the worst of it.

Even so, prosecutor Copley the jury, “It’s also not a legal defense that a child had some type of diagnosis, a mental health issue, a substance abuse issue, a behavioral problem.”

The defense did not disagree.

Ferritor’s lawyer referred to the big mistake in a number of ways yet told the jury despite that, what happened was not a crime.

“There is not one moment that I want you to think that this defense is about whether or not [sic] deserved the treatment that he got. Because it is not. Or that, the fact that he is vulnerable or had medical issues from early childhood is justification for what happened. Because it is not.

”However, we are in a criminal courtroom and what you have to determine is whether an act, a horrible act of parenting, a bad act of parenting, bad choices, amount to a crime. And in this case, they do not.”

Ferriter’s wife Tracy has been in court, watching his trial in person. She’s also charged and will be tried separately at a later time.

Lesser charges, such as culpable negligence and child neglect, are on the table. The jury will begin deliberating the case, Thursday morning.

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