New Enterprise man loses appeal

A New Enterprise man convicted for the attempted kidnapping of a 17-year-old Mennonite girl has lost his appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in which he contended his 10- to 20-year sentence was excessive.

Bedford County Judge Travis W. Livengood sentenced 59-year-old Todd Richard Ferry last November, and, during the sentencing hearing, he stated he saw no remorse by Ferry for events that occurred on Nov. 14, 2014, as the teen was riding her bicycle home after completing her job at a nearby produce farm.

The young woman was traveling along the lane to her farm, having just picked up the family mail, when she was grabbed by a man, later identified as Ferry.

He knocked her off the bike, held her by the shoulders and eventually dragged her toward a truck. He attempted to put something over her head as he was opening the truck door.

The girl struggled and pulled away from her assailant. She ran to her family home.

The victim’s dress and a vest she was wearing were torn and she suffered bruises to her shoulders and knees.

According to the Superior Court opinion, issued Monday, a letter was found the next day in the mailbox in which the unidentified attacker apologized, writing, “I’m sorry about the wrestling match I had with you … I never meant no harm. I wanted you to talk to me. How does one non-Mennonite talk to a beautiful lady Mennonite? I fell in love with you.”

State police Trooper Dana Martini was able to track down the assailant by interviewing members of the Mennonite community, particular young women who reported that Ferry knew their names and was “overly friendly” with the 17-year-old, as well as others.

For instance, a 14-year-old girl said she husked corn for Ferry and one day while driving with her and her sister, he said he wanted to take her to his cabin in the mountains so she could perform her job.

The trooper determined Ferry had a truck, as well as a “large, dark colored” dog.

When interviewed by Martini, he denied he was the assailant, but, when another officer, Cpl. Edward Mahalko, showed him the letter of apology, he “changed his story,” insisting all he wanted to do that night was talk to the girl.

DNA also linked him to sweatpants found at the scene.

A jury convicted Ferry of attempted kidnapping of a minor, false imprisonment, luring a child into a vehicle and simple assault.

The judge sentenced him only on the attempted kidnapping charge but imposed the maximum of 10 to 20 years.

Ferry’s appeals counsel, Blair County attorney Terry W. Despoy, presented several arguments to Superior Court Judges Mary Jane Bowes, Judith Olson and Deborah A. Kunselman, contending: the evidence was insufficient; many irrelevant facts were allowed into the trial; the DNA evidence should have been barred, and the sentence was excessive.

The court rejected the appeal, noting that in view of the girl’s testimony about the attack, the DNA evidence placing (Ferry) at the scene, his apology letter and his statements to police, “the evidence of guilt was overwhelming.”

Any irrelevant statements in the trial were harmless error, said the Superior Court opinion.

The judges also concluded Ferry had consented — after being advised of his rights — to provide police with a DNA sample.

One of the defense complaints was that the judge didn’t provide reasons for his imposition of the maximum sentence.

His sentencing statement however provided his reasoning, according to Superior Court opinion.

Livengood, in reviewing the incident, said he has had few cases in which premeditation was “so great.”

He cited the victim’s injuries — the marks Ferry left on her and her torn dress — as evidence of the violence that occurred.

The judge stated that even after the attack, Ferry continued to visit the girl’s employment.

But, he said, that was not only evidence of his guilt.

“He couldn’t stay away. … He had to revisit her and continue to talk to her knowing that an investigation was going on. That’s anti-social behavior.”

Of anything less than the maximum, Livengood said, “I do not see that — I can’t arrive at it. I cannot arrive at it.”

Ferry is incarcerated at the State Correctional institution at Somerset.