Family faces son's killer: 'It was your intent to kill'

SEATTLE -- Family members of a man fatally shot by a stray bullet and the man who pulled the trigger gave tearful pleas for justice and understanding as Andrew Patterson was sentenced to over 23 years in prison.

The 280-month sentence was at the top of the sentencing range of 15-23 years and more than the 19-plus years prosecutors had recommended. Patterson's attorney had asked for a 13-year sentence.

Prosecutors say Patterson, 21, was firing at someone else across a street but instead hit Justin Ferrari as he drove through an intersection with his parents and two young children in the vehicle in May of 2012. The 42-year-old software engineer was hit in the head and died in his father's arms in front of his children, ages 4 and 7. Ferrari had just picked up his parents from the airport and was leaving town for a Memorial Day weekend vacation.

Ferrari's mother was allowed to address the court prior to the sentence and spoke through tears for nearly nine minutes, remembering her son and expressing the pain Patterson inflicted on their family.

"Without Justin, we wonder if life will some day be good again," said Geani Ferrari.

And she spoke of the tremendous loss Justin's children face: "Daily, they will not have their father to love and guide them and they will live with the horror of witnesses their father's death. The ripples from this tragic act will be with our family as long as we live...

"I miss having a hero in my life. Every day we miss our son, the joy. As crippled and torn apart as our family members are, it is for Justin that I weep. Justin was robbed of a life well planned. Justin was the victim and I'll not forget that,ever."

She then turned her attention to Patterson:

"I can't help but believe it was your intent to kill," Geani Ferrari said. "Society should be protected from individuals who would walk down a street and use a gun as a lethal weapon."

But she then expressed hope that prison will help change his life for the better.

"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," she said. "You still have the opportunity to be a role model for your daughter and others. If you leave prison a changed man, the world will be a better place. That's what our family hopes for you. Hopefully that's what you seek for yourself."

Patterson's mother took her turn to address the court and described her son as a good kid who made a mistake.

"I want to say how sorry I am for the families that lost," she said through tears. "He didn't intentionally go out to find this man to kill him. Andrew's not like that... I feel for the kids that lost their daddy. I hope one day when he is released he can be a better father. I know that Andrew made a bad choice... I just hope and pray that he learns from this and never go out there and can take care of his baby when he gets out."

Finally, Andrew Patterson addressed the court and spoke of the pain he caused.

"I take all responsibilities of the actions I done on May 24, 2012," he said. "That day scared me for my whole life. I have nightmares to this day... I pray to God for forgiveness for what I did. I feel sorry and sad for Justin Ferrari's and my family because it's pain on both sides. When I looked in Justin's wife's eyes and talked to her that day, it was hard for me. I cried for days saying 'why me, God?' I've been in jail for a year and it changed me a lot."

He then vowed to become a better person.

"While I do my time, I'm going to change my life, for me, my loved ones, and the people I hurt. I'm going to get a career and go to school. When I get out, I want to open up a youth center to help kids and teens to stay out of trouble. I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry Ferrari family. I'm sorry, Mom and Dad, and I'm sorry to everybody that I hurt."

But judge Michael Hayden was not moved in sentencing Patterson to four years longer than prosecutors were even asking.

"I don't believe Mr. Patterson was acting in self defense, he was acting as a lot of gang members do, out of hutzpa, youthful indiscretion, misplaced honor, and he shot at someone, and he hit the wrong person," Hayden said.

He said he was also particularly angry that Patterson was in court for another incident nine days prior to the shooting and was told to surrender his firearm.

"A judge tried to take that gun of the street and and out of your hands nine days before you killed somebody with it," he said. "It didn't seem to make any difference to you... all excuses seem to evaporate for me when you can't follow a simple court order for nine days.

"You'll be fairly old when you get out and I hope that gang is gone when you get out. I hope it dissolves post haste."

Patterson had pleaded guilty in July in King County Superior Court to second-degree murder.