Francisco Ferrer, 33, was granted bond Wednesday morning by Douglas County Superior Court Judge Robert James, despite emotional pleas by the victim’s family.
The decision came after James heard witnesses from victim Jason Dale Strickland’s family and those supporting Ferrer. He also heard details of the violent collision that caused the death of Strickland, a Carroll County man who had worked as an EMT at Grady. He was also a volunteer firefighter.
“I try not to hold any animosity toward anyone,” said Sammy Strickland, the victim’s father, as he fought back tears. “I understand that this man has kids. They can see him occasionally in jail. They can possibly bring him gifts occasionally if they want. We can’t do that. My son is gone. He doesn’t need bond. I feel like he’d get out of here and do this again to somebody. I don’t understand. I don’t know why he would want out on on bond, or why he’d want to go out and face society.”
The victim’s wife, Candy Strickland, talked about the children her husband left behind and the impact the death has had on them. His mother, Doris Strickland, told the judge that she still breaks down every day, still not sure why her son had been taken so young. In all, 15 family members, friends and co-workers stood together, many wearing blue T-shirts that memorialized Strickland.
Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Ryan Leonard told the court details from the night Strickland was killed.
According to Leonard, Ferrer was drunk while driving a Honda Element westbound on I-20 near Lee Road at about 5 a.m. that Sunday morning. Leonard said that blood alcohol tests found that Ferrer had a blood alcohol content of .125 when he struck from behind a Harley Davidson ridden by the 37-year-old Strickland. The impact ejected Strickland from the motorcycle and into the center travel lane where he was hit by a tractor-trailer truck.
Strickland was pronounced dead on the scene.
Leonard said that Ferrer told investigators that he had been with friends at a Fulton Industrial club from 9:30 p.m. until the club closed at 3 a.m. After eating at Waffle House, Ferrer was driving home when the accident occurred. Leonard indicated that records showed that Ferrer had withdrawn $500 from an ATM and had paid his tab at the club in cash. Leonard also said that Ferrer admitted drinking “a beer and for shots of Jagermeister, mixed with Red Bull” and had just $12 in cash on him at the time of his arrest.
Ferrer’s attorney, Paul White, said he has been sifting through reports and believes the details of the accident may be different when all is said and done, alleging that Strickland may have pulled in front of Ferrer.
Ferrer had a large group of family and friends in court on his behalf. They said the suspect had been dependable, honest and hard-working and called what happened “out of character” for Ferrer.
They said Ferrer would not flee, would always be in court and that he had only had minor traffic tickets in the past. They said Ferrer had never been in any other trouble with the law. White said that if Ferrer was on bond, he would be able to help significantly in his defense.
James granted the $300,000 bond with some very strict conditions. Ferrer is not allowed to drive if he does gain release. He was also ordered not to consume any alcohol and not to occupy any vehicle with anyone who has been drinking.
Ferrer has been in jail since his arrest on March 25 and had been denied bond previously by James. No further court dates were set, but a trial is likely to be scheduled early next year.