By the time he was in fifth grade he was extremely overweight. He was teased and beat up by the older neighborhood kids. During this period in his life he grew more and more angry at the life he had, and was searching for acceptance by anyone who would give it.
In the eighth grade Chris started using steroids in order to change his physical appearance, as well as gain acceptance among the more popular kids. His appearance did drastically change during those years, but so did his personality and his judgement. He was just a kid using a drug that changed him in ways he did not understand. The outward appearance is what he wanted changed - to be accepted, not to be overweight, to look "good", but he got changes he didn't recognize until many years later... changes in the way he thought.
He was sexually active at thirteen (13) and fathered a daughter that same year. He never had the chance to even see his daughter, all rights were stripped from him by signing a single piece of paper - a decision he did not understand fully at such a young age. On numerous occasions he tried to see his daughter only to end up in trouble with the law - further fueling his anger.
While his mother worked two jobs to pay bills and provide, Chris was running around with adults. He was doing just about anything to keep their acceptance and to gain what he thought was a friendship. He was a toy to these individuals and they used him as such. They would provide him with alcohol, give him their cars, and introduce him to women - sometimes twice his age. He felt obligated to these adults and had a loyalty to them as a son would to his father.
The first time Chris was part of a burglary he went because one of the adults asked him to. This individual was already on the run from a different state and was using an alias, while dating an underage girl from Mineral Ridge.
The first time Chris had a gun in his hands was because one of the adults told him, "You are a juvey - if we get caught they can't do nothin to you".
The crazier things Chris was part of, the more these older individuals liked him, or acted as if he was "cool" and accepted him. This continued to escalate.
Chris did ask for help. At the age of sixteen when he had no control over anything in his life - no money, no insurance, he was even unable to sign his name on a legal document - he went to his mother for help. He did not want the life he had. He didn't know how to get out. He didn't know how to tell the only friends he had that he wanted some distance. He didn't know what to do. He admitted how lost he was to his mother and asked if she would get him admitted to Belmont Pines. Belmont Pines was a hospital for juveniles, ranging from behavior modification to drug addiction. It would have been a year long program in which Chris would have been separated from everyone. It would have been his out. He was denied. Not because he didn't need the help, they even referred him to a counselor, instead his mother's insurance would not cover the year long treatment because he had no history of mental illness. At that age, if you were able to gain the strength to ask for such help; can you imagine being turned down?
As all of this is being told to you I don't ever want you to get the impression I don't feel responsible for my own actions. I was in need of acceptance from those I tried to impress, and it led my life down a terrible path. I was so foolish and so stupid, and everyday I awake to the regret of the life I was part of. I am not pushing the blame... I am only asking that you consider how impressionable a sixteen year old boy is. I was confused in so many ways. I found myself clinging onto the only thing I knew... my friends, the adults, and the trouble. You couldn't possibly understand the conviction I have in my heart when I say I am so very sorry for all the hurt I caused.
Chris was involved in committing burglaries with three adults and four other juveniles.
The night most pertinent to this petition is when a young man lost his life while these juveniles committed a burglary. This is the case that still has Chris incarcerated and the focus of his parole hearings.
The day begins with Chris at his girlfriends house after school. The three other juvenile's came and picked Chris up. Chris had no gun. The only gun brought that night was from the youngest offender.
After driving around for a while they come across a home that was empty. Three of the four juveniles entered the home. While inside Chris found a bottle of wine and consumed it.
...as they were leaving Chris happened to look in the couch seat cushions. He found a small hand gun. He placed it in his pocket.
I was so light headed - I didn't want to be there, all I felt was inner turmoil with myself. I just downed that wine, everything about me was a joke. I was a phony. All I wanted was to get back home... then...
It was evening by now and they were on their way back home. They passed a house that was completely dark and it was quickly pointed out.
The car ride home I was feeling dizzy, that wine really had me messed up. I remember it being cold outside and I had my face against the window so I wouldn't throw up. I was so foolish.
Two of the juveniles and Chris were dropped off and the driver parked down the street. They entered the home. While inside, a car pulled into the driveway.
I have many regrets, and wish I could change so many things. When it was brought to my attention this house was dark I should have told them I was half drunk and didn't want to go... but I didn't. I do not want to make it seem like I am blaming the alcohol for my actions - we were out doing burglaries. But my thoughts were so cloudy...
They were able to disarm the young man that came home. The machete was tossed to the side, and no one thought to grab it. They decided to grab the few things they had collected before they left. Suddenly the young man made a quick movement, Chris fired a shot.
I was panicking - we were standing in this hallway and we were going to run out the front door if he came through the back, and vice-versa, but he came in real quiet with a machete in his hand - it looked like a sword - I was scared and freaking out and the wine was not helping the situation...
The youngest offender placed the gun to the young man's head and fired. We want to make it clear the difference between the two shots that were fired. Because of this shot the crime was reported as an execution.
At that moment I felt the most intense feeling of dread a person could possibly feel - I couldn't believe I had shot someone... what was I doing? And at that moment the young man looked directly into my eyes - I panicked. I dropped the gun. I ran. I was outside of the house when the second shot was fired.
The juvenile's got picked back up and drove home. Chris didn't speak much at all on the ride home. The youngest offender was bragging about what happened nearly the entire ride home. It was him and another juvenile that took the guns and disposed of them.
When I entered the house after the second shot my heart dropped to the floor. I foolishly was still trying to appear tough - but I couldn't stand what I had just been part of... I hurried to the couch and grabbed a blanket and covered him, like it was going to take it away... like if we couldn't see him it didn't happen. I wanted to wake up from this horrible nightmare...
This was the last night Chris went out with these juveniles. He was called on a couple occasions to go out and "make some money". But he turned it down. However, his ability to say no came too late, and this terrible event already happened.
Although Chris cooperated with authorities concerning the other burglaries and events that happened, he was never questioned by law enforcement or the prosecutors office concerning what happened that night. They chose to take the account from a juvenile who was part of the burglary, inside the house, helped dispose of the guns, yet... never did a single day incarcerated because of his cooperation.
I just want you to know I was NEVER some unremorseful monster. I was a kid, living in some fantasy, hurt, angry, and so lost. I do not deserve any sympathy for who I was, I can only hope for forgiveness and to be seen for the man I have become. Take the following information only as proof that things did not happen as the news and stories have led you to believe.
Chris did not want to go that night. This was never discussed among his friends, he secretly let his girlfriend and her mom know. This hand written letter has been in Chris's possession for a very long time. It is from his ex-girlfriend's mom remembering that night, and how he (Chris) didn't want to go. This was only a few months after requesting to be placed in Belmont Pines and being denied.
Christopher appeared sincerely remorseful and empathetic... ...I believe that his tearfulness was sincere and not a deliberate attempt to manipulate.
Lastly, on his sentencing day Chris wanted to say something to the victims family. He was advised by his attorney (who is now disbarred for unrelated unethical behavior) NOT to say a word. His attorney advised that the judge would not allow the plea-agreement if Chris "slipped" and mentioned anything about his shot not being the fatal shot. So Chris did as he was told.
In 1999 Chris wanted to at least find a way to say all the things he should have. He wrote to the "Department of Victim's Services". The response, from Karen Ho, simply states Chris "is not permitted by Ohio law to contact any of the victim's family."
Anyone that knows Chris, knows how deep his remorse and hurt is concerning this tragic ordeal.
I really need to explain something that happened between me and the 13 year old during my juvenile hearings. It has been said that I asked him to take credit for both shots, and the truth is, I did. However, the entire truth is not being told - just the part to make you look at me even worse. I was so young, so stupid, and when my attorney told me that "I had to get the 13 year old to take credit for both shots" or I would be tried as an adult - I did ask him to do so. But there is more. When I asked this he was worried his Father would get sued or prosecuted for the gun used in this crime. I had to say "I gave him the gun" and he would take credit for the shots. I reported this news back to my attorney and all was set.... when the 13 year old decided to change his story, he forgot to tell them I didn't give him any gun either. I was left looking twice as bad as I already did... and to make things worse, my attorney dropped off my case shortly after this, once he realized he couldn't win or keep me in the juvenile system - he didn't want no part of this mess... a mess he helped make worse.
Just to note, this was the same attorney mentioned above who is currently disbarred for an unrelated unethical behavior.
While Chris was at Richland Correctional Institution we hired a Private Investigator to administer a stress analysis test (lie detector test). This test had a half dozen questions, one of them being the fact Chris's attorney told him to get the 13 year old to take credit for both shots. However, at the last minute, the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections disapproved the test, stating only that this information was not influential in a parole board decision. Does that make sense to you?
The polygraph concluded:
Before Doug Lash moved, had you already planned to kill Doug? Answer: No.
Did you intend to pull the trigger on the gun? Answer: No
It was indicated that Chris was truthful on these answers. Therefore, it was not planned, it was not an execution, it was not due to some rationale the juvenile co-defendant thought up... it was due to the movement - and Chris did not intend to pull the trigger on the gun.
When Chris saw the Parole Board (2008 - first hearing) they confronted him with a statement from Assistant Prosecutor LuWayne Annos. She wrote to the Board that he "forced" the younger co-defendant to fire that fatal shot. FORCED? This has NEVER been part of the record or was it ever mentioned to anyone 22 years ago. It is not mentioned in the original news article concerning the offender.
There is absolutely NO truth to this statement and we do not understand why the Prosecutor would make such a statement. Is this supposed to be the justification as to why Chris has done three times as much time as that of the principal offender?
Did you tell Ellsmore to shoot Doug? Answer: No.
It is indicated that Chris was truthful on this answer. Chris NEVER told or forced the co-defendant to fire a shot. Chris had already fled the room when that shot was fired, he did not see the fatal shot.
I wish with all my heart I could just tell you I wasn't involved in any of this. I am overwhelmed with an intense feeling of guilt and regret... nothing I do will ever make this right. As a kid I didn't understand that - as a man... it is my cross to carry, and I will carry it whether I am in prison or out. You don't know me, so I don't expect you to really understand how different I am now, how I have tried everyday of my incarceration to be a better adult - a better human being. I have given everything that I can back to those who needed me. I have tried to show through my actions who I truly am. I hate all this splitting of hairs of who did what - I am ashamed. I have hated myself for this for longer than I can remember. I just hope that I won't forever be held to the actions of that misguided youth. Yes, he was terrible. Yes, he needed help. But as I stand in front of you with all that I have grown to be - I have a redeeming quality, I am a better man, I am worthy to be called a friend. I hope you can find it within yourself to look at me now, to see me for the man I have become under the worst of circumstances. I am not a monster - I am not violent - I am not a threat to anyone... I am a loving and caring man who just wants whatever chance he has left to make a mark on this world, I do not want to be remembered for who I was... but for who I am.
I knew from the first day I walked inside of prison that I didn't want it to define me - I wanted nothing more than to show everyone that I wasn't a monster, wasn't beyond rehabilitation - that I could be a person you would be proud to call a friend. I had no idea how hard this path would be for me - in prison, doing the "right" thing is the wrong thing... every step was an obsticle; but in the end, I am proud of the man I have grown into... That sixteen year old juvenile who was lost and angry is long gone... not because prison helped me... because I took an active role in my rehabilitation - I wanted a change.
- G.E.D.: obtained in 1993.
- College: 99 credit hours with a 3.98 GPA in Business Administration. He has received 5 certificates of completion from Ashland University: Basic Management, Office Skills, Office Management, Retail Management, and Hotel/Resturant Management.
- Apprenticeship: Carpentry. Involved in building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Mansfield Correctional Institution's community service department built the complete framework for these homes, cabinets, shelves, even the doors. Chris accumulated enough apprenticeship hours to get a half time certificate in Carpentry through the State of Ohio.
- University of Toledo: Chris participated in "Inside-Out". This program brings 16 outside students in to have class amongst 16 inside students. The class was Law, Justice, and Mass Incarceration (LST 4900/CRIM 4490) - Grade: A. This same university offered another class which Chris took: Urban Issues Workshop.
Violent Offenders: Mental Health
Opening Doors: Improving Skills for Resolving Conflicts
Victim's Awareness Program
Cage Your Rage
Twelve Step Group
Positive Solutions Class 2: Anger Management
Red Cross - CPR Training
Thinking For a Change
Real Challenges for Real Men
Stand Down Man Up
Microsoft Office Basic
Keyboarding (Typing Class)
Other ProgrammingChris has participated in making videos for juveniles on three different occasions. P.O.I.N.T. (Prison Officers Informing Neighborhood Teens), G.I.F.T. (Giving Information For Tomorrow), and S.O.Y. (Saving Our Youth).
These videos were designed to speak to kids who were getting into trouble. Chris makes a genuine effort to try and reach these kids by describing his life and his hope they will listen. The Saving Our Youth Video can be seen on this site, here.
Helping Others Incarcerated
- Chris was one of the main tutors for the Ashland University Computer Lab at Mansfield Correctional Institution.. He would help those who were taking classes do their homework and help with problems that arose in the computer lab.
- Chris was a certified education tutor. He helped those who were trying to get their G.E.D.s. He would sit countless hours helping someone learn what others might think trivial - in most cases teaching a grown man how to read.
- Art Instruction: At Mansfield Correctional Institution throughout his time there he was responsible for teaching numerous art classes. The most notable was: Realism and Portraits. He also taught classes on: airbrushing, acrylic and oil painting, perspective drawing, and other art related subjects. After arriving at Toledo Correctional Institution he was immediately put to work in the Community Service art department. During his short time there, they revamped the airbrushing and trained 3 inmates to use the equipment properly.
- Program Aide at Toledo Correctional Institution for Keyboarding and basic Computer Class.
Chris is a graduate of Kairos weekend ToCI #19, table of Matthew. Kairos is a Christian retreat that lasts three complete days. If you don't know about Kairos, click here to learn more.
Kairos weekend was a complete reawakening of my heart and my relationship with God. Kairos was very special to me. I want you to think of me as an artist - the paintbrush is my tool - it allows me to paint beautiful pictures. Kairos is Gods tool - and it brought about beautiful changes inside me. I wish everyone could go through such a weekend, maybe the world would be a much better place.
Institutional ConductChris has NEVER been to segregation (in trouble) for ANY act of violence or ANY rule infraction dealing with drugs or alcohol.
There is no one better to describe Chris than a former individual who was incarcerated with him. These individuals are now "free" and living a productive life. They are examples of rehabilitation. Please read what Barry, Adam, Randy, and Ray had to say about their experiences around Chris.
Community Service80,000 hours of Voluntary Community Service. Most of Chris's efforts have been to give back to society; the type of dedication it took to accumulate these hours proves the truthfulness in it - he cares about others, he wants to help others, he is trying to be a better person everyday.
There has been no greater blessing than my involvement with Community Service. It is such a great feeling to see a kid wearing a hat you painted with a big smile on his face, a pastor from a church looking in amazement at a backdrop done for his church, or a veteran with tears in his eyes over a realistic painting that makes him remember those who gave all. I am proud to have given most of my life to others - at no time was I required to do ANY of this, and often times had to complete projects while attending college and other institutional duties. If you know nothing about me - let my artwork speak as to my character... it is a true reflection of me.Maybe you'll never understand this, but all I have done makes me feel like a human being, like I am worth more than my surroundings, and that in tragedy God has used me the best he could to bring a little joy to those who I was blessed to do artwork for...
Community Service PartnersThese are organizations, schools, churches, and other non-profit groups Chris has done Community Service for.
Vietnam Veterans of America
Ashland County Humane Socitey
Blufton University Athletic Department
Mansfield Correctional Institution
Victims Rights of Mansfield
Central Office (Ohio DRC)
Special Childrens Project
Mansfield High School
Bureau of Community Service
Tender Loving Dog Care
Basket of Hope
Mansfield Swim Team
Local Area Schools
St. Peters Church
Head Start, Day Spring
First Presbyterian Church
Mansfield Local Churches
Matt Maupin Portrait Donation (Lost Soldier in Iraq)
Relay For Life
DRUG FREE Richland County CS
Community Action for Capable Youth
The Brethren Church
North Central State College
Kaleidoscope Doll Project
Restorative Justice Mansfield
Victim's of Crime Mansfield/Richland
Habitat for Humanity
Cardington Church of the Nazarene
Trinity United Methodist Church
Mansfield Mayors Office (Mayor Lydia Reid)
P.O.I.N.T. - Prison Officers Informing Neighborhood Teens
Cincinnati Youth Collaborative
G.I.F.T. - Giving Information For Tomorrow
Ohio State University Psychology Department
Mayflower Church VBS
Hope Well W.M. Church
Layfayette Baseball/Softball Association
Artwork / Airbrushing / Oil Painting
Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 55Patriotic Supply Trailer
Tender Loving Dog Care
Christopher Ferrell was sentenced to an ADULT sentence of 20 years to life. He has served nearly 22 years as of 2013.
Chris entered into a plea-agreement with the understanding if he "stayed out of trouble and showed rehabilitation" he would be given a second chance. His first parole hearing was in 2008 and he was denied parole due to the nature of the offense, he was continued for 5 years.
There have been many misconceptions and many lies told as to how this case evolved. The co-defendants in this case were all juveniles and their statements reflect the fact they were trying desperately to remove guilt from themselves.
The fatal shot DID NOT come from Christopher Ferrell. The individual who fired that shot did 7 years as a juvenile and was released to a new life with no adult record. Chris has done more time to date than all of the individuals involved put together.
Justice is defined as "The upholding of what is just, fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law". It is not "just" that Chris has spent so much more time incarcerated than any other individual in this case.
Rehabilitation is defined as "to restore to health or useful life, through therapy and education". The path Chris has chose to take during his incarceration is one that proves a juvenile can over come prison and become a loving and caring adult.
It should always be remembered that this offense was not committed by an adult. This was a very lost and confused sixteen year old boy.
We, the undersigned, do believe in rehabilitation. We do believe that a sixteen year old boy should be given a second chance, not without proving himself worthy; and we believe he has done so through his actions while incarcerated. We do believe that he has spent enough time incarcerated, and that continued incarceration will only deteriorate the hope and belief in a just system that rewards for true rehabilitation.
We, the undersigned, ask the Governor of the State of Ohio to relay our concerns as a group to the Ohio Parole Authority - with the authority given by the Ohio Revised Code in governing the parole board, for a just and meaningful hearing in the consideration for the release of Christopher Ferrell. We further beseech the chairperson of the Ohio Parole Board to consider our concerns as a group and in the fairness of justice grant a parole to Christopher Ferrell, giving a once troubled juvenile a second chance as a productive member of society.
Give Christopher Ferrell a Second Chance
Adding a "Note" is not required, however, they will be submitted with the petition.
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