Man sentenced in Tutu Mall slaying
Published: October 25, 2012
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. THOMAS - If Jah'Mari Industrious serves the full length of the sentence imposed on him Wednesday, he will not be out of jail until he turns 31, with nearly half of his life spent behind bars.
Under the terms of a plea deal that Industrious accepted in June and that V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian approved in August, Industrious pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree assault and unlicensed possession of a firearm.
Industrious, who is now 18, was charged for the death of Joseph Ferrari, 23, a bystander at Tutu Park Mall, who was struck by a bullet on a Tuesday afternoon in June 2010 when Industrious tried to shoot a boy with whom he was fighting. The boy who was the target also was injured in the shooting.
Assistant Attorney General Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte asked the judge to put Industrious away for 30 years for a "careless and senseless" crime. She also invited members of Ferrari's family to speak to the court.
"I don't hate you," Ferrari's sister, Nika Ferrari, told Industrious in court Wednesday. "I hate the stupid choice you made."
Both she and Ferrari's mother, Janet, told the court they hoped Industrious could make the best of his time in jail.
"I hope that he can do something positive with his life when he's in jail so he don't have to be in there forever," Janet Ferrari said.
Industrious' great-aunt, Faye O'Connor, asked the court to show mercy for her great-nephew.
"I personally feel all of us came up short - his family and the system as well," O'Connor said.
She said she recognized that Industrious "made a bad judgment call" but that Joseph Ferrari's death was not intentional.
"I'm not here to portray that Jah'Mari is an altar boy," she said. "But when you are asking for justice, you have to ask for mercy as well."
Tejo-Sprotte said Industrious already had been shown some measure of mercy, noting that he has had contact with the criminal justice system since the age of 12.
Industrious' attorney, Boyd Sprehn, asked for a sentence of 10 years because his client "does not deny responsibility" for the shooting. "There is still time to salvage one life," Sprehn said.
Sprehn argued that the purpose of the justice system is to deter criminals and to rehabilitate offenders, with a stronger emphasis on the latter for underage offenders. Pointing out that Industrious was 16 at the time of the shooting, Sprehn cited recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions to bolster his argument that juveniles have a diminished capacity for moral reasoning and a heightened ability to change.
He also noted that Industrious' father was "utterly absent from his life" and said that the government was trying to make an example out of Industrious with a harsh sentence.
When asked whether he would like to make a statement, Industrious stood and turned to members of the Ferrari family assembled in the courtroom.
"I'm sorry for the pain I caused all of you," he said. "Every day I think about it."
Christian said he was taking into account the fact that Industrious was a minor at the time of the shooting.
"But he was charged with the most serious crimes you can be charged with in the Virgin Islands," the judge said.
Christian said Industrious was lucky no one else was injured considering the time and place of the shooting. Christian said he felt the government's requested sentence was too long and Sprehn's request was too short.
The judge sentenced Industrious to 15 years on the second-degree murder charge, and five years each on the assault and gun possession charges - all to be served concurrently. Industrious will get credit for two years, one month and 15 days of time served.
Referring to a recent V.I. Supreme Court opinion, Tejo-Sprotte asked the judge whether it was proper to issue three sentences on the three charges if more than one of them stemmed from the same incident. She said that based on the high court's opinion, she believed Christian could sentence Industrious separately on the murder and assault charges because they had different victims, but not on the gun charge.
Christian eventually agreed with Tejo-Sprotte's logic and stayed the sentence on the gun charge, which did not change the overall length of the sentence because the sentences were to be served concurrently.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.