PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison after he was found guilty of domestic violence assaults.
Superior Court Judge Brent Basden sentenced Jason Ferguson, 51, to 61.5 months in prison and 18 months of community custody on Thursday, according to the Clallam County prosecuting attorney’s office in a press release. The judge also required Ferguson to engage in substance use and domestic violence perpetrator treatment.
Ferguson’s sentence followed a three-day trial in mid-January. The jury found him guilty of one count of second-degree assault with a firearm, two counts of second-degree assault by strangulation and one count of fourth-degree assault.
The jury also determined that the offenses were against an intimate partner and that three second-degree assaults were part of a pattern of psychological or physical abuse against the victim manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period.
Per court testimony, Ferguson assaulted his then-girlfriend multiple times over the course of their 10-month relationship, prosecutors said. The survivor described one incident where Ferguson pointed a firearm at himself before pointing the weapon at her forehead.
She also described multiple incidents where Ferguson strangled her. In one of the strangulations, Ferguson chased her down when she tried to leave the property, placed his hand over her mouth to prevent her from making noise, and strangled her with his other hand, restricting her breathing until he was interrupted by an unidentified neighbor stepping out on their porch, prosecutors said.
At trial, the jury listened to two recorded calls between Ferguson and the survivor that were recorded by Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Stacy Sampson pursuant to a court order. In the calls, Ferguson admitted to the firearm incident and corroborated portions of the survivor’s testimony, prosecutors said in the release.
He blamed his behavior on the survivor, saying she had emasculated him with her comments.
During his testimony at the trial, Ferguson said he did not understand what he was admitting to or apologizing for in the calls.
The jury returned its verdicts after a few hours of deliberations.
At sentencing, Ferguson faced 22 to 29 months plus 36 months for being armed with a firearm during one of the assaults under Washington’s Sentencing Reform Act. Since the jury also found a pattern of abuse existed, the court also could have imposed an exceptional sentence above the standard range.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Roberson recommended a total sentence of 87 months, citing the severity of psychological and physical abuse Ferguson engaged in and its frequency. Roberson also recommended 18 months of community custody as required under Washington law.
Alex Stalker, representing Ferguson, argued for a 61.5-month sentence because of Ferguson’s lack of criminal history and the impact of drug use on his client and the relationship.
In a statement in court, the victim said Ferguson’s attacks caused her to feel panicked and less trustful of others.
She told him she chooses “to be a survivor rather than one of your victims. I choose to heal. Today, I take my power back from you. Your shame is not mine to carry.”
In imposing a middle of the standard range sentence, Badsen noted the impact of drug use on the relationship and that both parties were in a toxic relationship neither could free themselves from.
Basden acknowledged the seriousness of prolonged domestic violence and the jury’s finding of a pattern of abuse but declined to impose an exceptional sentence.