The California Youth Authority ward who killed a guard in Chino and sparked a crackdown on the lenient atmosphere in some CYA prisons was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.
A San Bernardino County Superior Court jury in October convicted James Ferris, 30, of murder in the death of guard Ineasie Baker, 42, of Rialto. But the same jury and a subsequent panel deadlocked on whether he should be sentenced to death. Bowing to the wishes of Baker's family, prosecutors did not seek another retrial of the penalty phase.
After more than a year of court proceedings, Baker's daughter and mother addressed the killer before Judge Ingrid Uhler handed down the sentence at the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse.
"I hope you die slow," Baker's daughter, Tiffany, said to Ferris. "You make me sick."
Ferris refused to look at her or Baker's mother, Mary Maxie.
"You killed my daughter!" Maxie yelled, as Ferris sat silently.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos held Maxie back as she leaned toward Ferris and told him she wanted to beat him so he would know how it felt for her daughter.
Prosecutors have said Ferris feared his imminent transfer to an adult prison and, in an attempt to escape in August 1996, killed Baker to get her keys, which authorities found hidden in a can of cleanser in his cell.
After beating, stabbing and strangling Baker, he stuffed her body in a trash can, hauled it past prison security and emptied it into a dumpster--all undetected, according to court testimony. Baker's body was found two days later in a Pomona landfill.
At the time, Ferris was in the youth prison for the 1989 murder of an Orange County woman who had taken him into her home. But Ferris was a "juice ward," meaning he had the trust of guards and relative freedom of movement within the prison.
Baker's murder sparked a shift in the California Youth Authority from relatively lax treatment of wards to a heightened focus on security.
Ferris has kept a Bible by him through the case, a gesture some Baker family members regarded as hypocritical. The Bible lay on the table in front of him Friday.
"Christians don't kill innocent people," Maxie told Ferris. "I hate you!"
Several women in the crowded courtroom convulsed into sobs as Maxie spoke.
Donald Baker, Ineasie Baker's husband, chose not to speak. He, Tiffany Baker and Maxie all wore T-shirts with inscriptions that honor Ineasie Baker's death in the line of duty.
Nobody spoke on Ferris' behalf.
Uhler pronounced the sentence and ordered Ferris into the immediate custody of the state Department of Corrections. He left the courtroom carrying his Bible, without looking at the audience.
Chief Deputy Public Defender David Negus filed a notice of appeal with the court. He said he did so at Ferris' request. A new attorney will handle the appeal. There must be grounds for an appeal and Negus said that "nothing leaps out to me off the bat."
Donald and Tiffany Baker had wanted Ferris to die. But Ineasie Baker's grandmother, Sallie McMillon, said she is glad he didn't receive the death penalty.
"I don't want to see him dead," she said. "That's too easy. Let him live with it."
Donald Baker said the court ordeal may have ended Friday, but his family's anguish is unending. "It'll still be there," he said. "Forever."