Waverly, Ohio--The trial for the third and final man accused of murdering a deaf gay man in October 2004 will never happen.
Matthew Ferman was scheduled to begin trial on January 9, but he accepted a plea agreement on November 3.
He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and tampering with evidence in the October 2, 2004 death of Daniel Fetty, and was sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder charge and three years for the tampering charge. The two sentences are to be served consecutively, so he will be eligible for parole in 18 years.
The plea agreement may have saved Ferman’s life. Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk was seeking the death penalty against Ferman.
Ferman’s plea also means a detailed account of Fetty’s death will never go on the public record, since the testimony of police and of Ferman and the other two men accused in the murder will never be heard.
Police, called to a reported disturbance, found Fetty in a trash container behind a building in Waverly an hour or so after midnight on October 2, 2004. He had been severely beaten with bricks, bottles and boards, and his clothes were missing.
Patrolman Tim South saw three men run behind a nearby building, and within hours, Ferman, 22, Martin Baxter, 29, and Jeames Veachel Trent, 20, were all in custody.
Fetty was flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he died about 12 hours after being found by police.
He had been working at Emmitt House, a bar and restaurant in Waverly, trying to save up enough money for a new apartment. His old apartment was consumed in a fire, and Fetty was living in his car.
Baxter told police that he and Ferman had gone to the Canal Pub in Waverly, 50 miles south of Columbus. Ferman allegedly got into an argument with Fetty there, believing that he had stolen a pack of cigarettes containing some money off the bar.
Ferman was more friendly to Fetty when they went outside, offering to sell him some marijuana and luring him across the street behind a building, where he hit him in the head with a bottle.
Ferman told police that Baxter beat Fetty with a stick after he fell to the ground.
Trent claimed the duo called him over as he walked by, and his statement to investigators indicated that the assault had already begun.
The youngest defendant pleaded no contest last December and agreed to testify against Baxter and Ferman. Baxter pleaded guilty last month.
During that plea hearing, Juanita Meeks, Fetty’s mother, addressed Baxter, asking him if her son had begged for his life while being beaten to death.
“And this asshole laughed at her, in front of the judge,” said Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, who was providing victim support to Meeks and her daughter. “Everything she said to him, he would smirk and laugh.”
McCauley worried that Meeks would physically attack Baxter, but she kept “a white-knuckle grip on the podium” during her victim impact statement to the court.
“The were both [Meeks and her daughter] literally shaking and crying after this guy’s behavior,” said McCauley, who described Baxter’s demeanor as “incredibly appalling.”
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