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Jury seated for Tim Ferriter child abuse trial

Father accused of locking adopted son in box-like structure in garage
Tim Ferriter listens to prosecutor questioning potential juror during jury selection, Oct. 2, 2023
Posted at 9:00 AM, Oct 02, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A jury was seated Monday in the trial of a Jupiter man who's accused of locking his adopted son in a box-like structure for hours at a time.

Tim Ferriter, 48, and his wife, Tracy Ferriter, 47, are charged with aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment and an added count of child neglect.

The Ferriters, who live in the upscale Jupiter neighborhood of Egret Landing, were arrested in February 2022.

Jupiter police said the couple kept their teenage adopted son in an 8x8 box in their garage.

Police said the box had a mattress, camera and bucket that was used as a restroom, and the boy was only allowed out to go to school. The couple was eventually arrested when the boy — then 14 — ran away.

Tim and Tracy Ferriter are being tried separately, starting with the father's trial.

Timothy and Tracy Ferriter arrest photos
Timothy and Tracy Ferriter are accused of keeping their adopted 14-year-old son locked in a box in the family's garage.

Judge Howard Coates is allowing cameras in the courtroom for the high-profile case that has gained national attention.

Jury selection began Friday with a pool of 100 prospective jurors. By the conclusion of Friday's jury selection, six prospective jurors expressed concern about being photographed or recorded. They were given a questionnaire and sent home.

During Monday's jury selection, Assistant State Attorney Brianna Coakley was questioning prospective jurors about their thoughts ranging from the number of witnesses that the state might call to testify to whether they believe the state should get involved in how parents raise their children.

Assistant State Attorney Brianna Coakley questions potential jurors during jury selection for Tim Ferriter trial, Oct. 2, 2023
Assistant State Attorney Brianna Coakley questions a potential juror on the second day of jury selection in the trial of Tim Ferriter, Oct. 2, 2023, at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.

Defense attorney Prya Murad later questioned potential jurors about whether they'd pass judgment on Ferriter if he didn't testify in the trial.

"Is there anybody who would feel, 'You know what, if he was innocent, he would get up there and testify?'" Murad asked.

She also asked if anyone from the potential jury pool had been adopted or attended Catholic school. Tracy Ferriter once worked as a school aide at All Saints Catholic School in Jupiter from 2014 to 2017.

Defense attorney Prya Murad questions potential jurors during second day of Tim Ferriter jury selection, Oct. 2, 2023
Defense attorney Prya Murad questions potential jurors during the second day of jury selection in Tim Ferriter's trial, Oct. 2, 2023, at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.

Three prospective jurors — none of whom have children — said they didn't believe corporal punishment is an appropriate form of punishment for a parent.

Another prospective juror said she would never spank her child. Someone else who said she was in the process of adopting her niece said she was spanked as a child and is against it, while another said she had been spanked by a wooden spoon when she was younger.

One mother of five who said she "never found it necessary" to "be violent" as a form of discipline recalled children being paddled in public schools while growing up in Plantation.

A mother of two said she didn't think there was anything wrong with spanking until she became a parent. She said she doesn't do it in her home, but it doesn't make her uncomfortable.

"I have friends that spank their kids," she said. "They don't spank them to the point that they're bleeding or, you know, they can't sit or, you know, there's bruises on their body."

In a pretrial hearing last week, 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 40 years and possibly more.

Murad contends the child was "a medically complex child" and the alleged box was "a room" used for monitoring.

Garage in Egret Landing community where Tim and Tracy Ferriter are alleged to have kept their teenage adopted son in box
This is the garage where Tim and Tracy Ferriter are alleged to have kept their teenage adopted son locked in a box for hours at a time inside the Egret Landing community in Jupiter.

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.

WPTV legal analyst Michelle Suskauer said the trial could be more complex than it seems on the surface.

"What we've read is a one-sided presentation of evidence," Suskauer said. "It's the probable cause affidavit that's written by law enforcement and witness statements, and so there's always more to the story."

Suskauer said it's a "challenging" case for defense attorneys.

"Cases involving children as victims are very challenging to defend," Suskauer said.

Six jurors were seated Monday afternoon, with opening statements to begin Tuesday.