WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The father of a young man who died in a crash in August urged a judge Thursday not to further punish the driver, Justin Pierce, his late son’s best friend.
David Ferrero, of Woodstock, told Judge Karen Carroll to “please, please treat him with as much kindness as you can,”
Pierce, 22, was sentenced Thursday in White River Junction criminal court in the death of Jonathan Ferrero, also 22. He was convicted of felony drunken driving with fatality resulting.
Under the plea agreement, he will spend the next 150 days confined to his home. He has already spent 30 days behind bars after voluntarily checking himself into jail last month, making a total of 180 days’ confinement.
The rest of the sentence of two to eight years was suspended under the agreement.
Pierce and Jonathan Ferrero were heading home after their team’s baseball championship win Aug. 18 in Claremont, N.H. According to evidence, Pierce missed a sharp corner and drove his pickup into a creek in West Woodstock. The truck rolled onto its side, killing Ferrero.
Ferrerro’s father addressed the court on Pierce’s behalf.
“Jonathan didn’t have a seat belt on,” David Ferrero said. If he had, “he might have been in trouble, but I don’t believe he would be dead.”
He held up a photo of his son, taken three hours before his death during the celebration that followed his team’s victory that Sunday afternoon.
“That’s Justin standing directly behind him,” David Ferrero pointed out. “They’d been together since Jon was 4 and Justin was 3. They played sports together, they hunted, they fished and obviously they drank.”
He added, “But in no way, shape or form did this have any malicious thought behind it, it just happened.”
Carroll told Ferrero, “I’m really sorry for your loss, and I really admire your ability to come here today … as much as you’ve been harmed emotionally. I find it admirable that you are able to look through your own pain and look out for the well-being of another person.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “My son would do the same.”
Deputy State’s Attorney David Cahill also praised the Ferrero family but said the state could not overlook Pierce’s actions even though he, too, has suffered as a result of it.
“I have an amazing amount of respect for David and Nancy Ferrero for their capacity to forgive Mr. Pierce and understand his predicament,” Cahill said. “I can only hope that he shows himself to be worthy of that forgiveness during the coming months and years as he redeems himself for what he did.”
The prosecutor added that community feedback also made the point that more deaths could have resulted from Pierce’s actions.
“What if there had been a child on a bicycle coming the other way around that blind corner?” he said.
When it came his turn to speak, Pierce had difficulty composing himself as he faced the judge.
“I’m never going to be able to look at my friend’s face again,” he said. “Every day after work we’d talk about what we did. We were both stonemasons. We both learned from each other. He was my hunting buddy too. I’ll never be able to own a firearm now. I’ll never be able to hunt with him.”
Pierce choked back tears as he concluded, “I’m very sorry about what happened.”
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