Tim Ferriter was also found guilty of false imprisonment and neglect of a child, and faces up to 30 years in prison after he and his wife Tracy were arrested in 2022 for locking their adopted teenage son in a small, windowless structure in the family's garage for hours at a time.
A Florida father has been convicted of aggravated child abuse and other charges for locking his adopted teenage son in a windowless 8x8 box in the family's garage -- allegedly for over 10 hours a day for years.
According to Law&Crime, Timothy Ferriter was found guilty of one count each of aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment, and neglect of a child on Thursday. The jury deliberated for approximately 4.5 hours before reaching the guilty verdict. Tim's face was blank as the verdict was read, while his wife Tracy Ferriter -- who stands accused of the same charges -- cried behind him.
Palm Beach County jurors listened to seven days of testimony, according to local ABC affiliate WPBF, including hours of video footage from a Ring camera that revealed the inside of the small structure, in which the boy only had a bucket for a toilet.
As WPBFpreviously reported, the footage showed Tim cursing at the teen and throwing things around the room. He also reportedly threatened to keep the boy in the box much more in the future if he continued to act out in school.
The box inside the garage of Ferriter's Florida home was first discovered after the teen ran away in January 2022. Police had already been alerted about the room by contractors who built it; once authorities found the boy, he allegedly told cops it was where he was confined for anywhere up to 16-18 hours.
According to evidence presented during the trial, per Law&Crime, the teen was previously locked in a similar structure in the family's former Arizona home, starting when he was 11. The boy allegedly had no other bedroom in either home.
Both Timothy and Tracy Ferriter, both 48, were arrested in Jupiter, Florida, in February 2022.
Earlier this month, the Ferriters' son testified in court about the conditions inside the 8x8 structure he was kept in. The boy, who has not been named and was 14 at the time of his parents' arrests in 2022, took the stand in the case against his father. While he described the mistreatment as "dehumanizing," he also said he believed his parents made a "mistake" and others should "forgive them and move on."
The Ferriters' son testified the windowless 8x8 room was built inside the garage. The structure had a twin mattress on a concrete floor, no windows, and both an air conditioner and lights he couldn't control, he said. The boy claimed he was sometimes kept in total darkness, with locks on the outside preventing him from leaving on his own.
"It had a bucket for my urine and feces and that was it," he added, saying the room would sometimes smell "putrid." He also claimed he "received water occasionally but not on a regular basis."
When asked by prosecutors how being in the room made him feel, he said, "To me, being locked in a room, it's dehumanizing. It's almost as bad as genocide. It's saddening, to abuse a child that was just acting like a child." He also said he would be "put into the room by physical force" if he resisted ... and claimed his father once "smacked" him in the face and would "spank" him with a jump rope or belt, while yelling.
During the trial, the defense said Tim and his wife had to make "tough choices" about their son due to his behavioral issues. According to WPTV, Dr. Shiela Rapa, a witness for the defense, testified that the teen suffers from "reactive attachment disorder" -- a condition in which a child doesn't form a healthy emotional bond with their parents or guardians.
Tim's defense attorney, Prya Murad, argued that Tim's behavior was simply a case of "bad parenting," but didn't rise to the level of criminal, saying that the room was used for "monitoring" the child.
"Bad parenting does not mean that a person should be charged with a crime," said Murad. "It makes them human. It makes them a parent who is trying to figure out when faced with a child who has consistent and escalating behavioral issues, how to handle them."
On Thursday, Murad said they were shocked by the verdict, and plan to appeal.
"We’re devastated at what happened — this is a man with a wife and a family and no criminal record and he's lost his children and we really believe some of the rulings were unfair to the defense," she said, per WPBF.
Following Thursday's guilty verdict, Tim was handcuffed and taken to jail. He faces up to 30 years in prison, and his sentencing is scheduled for November 16. Tim previously turned down a two-year plea deal.
Tracy's trial was set to begin late last month, but they were later canceled. According to Law&Crime, per Palm Beach County court records, her trial has yet to be rescheduled.