Ellison’s killer gets lighter sentence

A 27-year-old man who shot and killed his girlfriend in Oak Harbor four years ago won’t be be re-tried next month.

Instead, Jerry Lee Farrow pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Dec. 16 to second-degree murder.

Judge pro tem Bill Moynihan went along with the recommended sentence worked out by the prosecution and defense as part of the plea bargain. The judge sentenced Farrow to 14 years and four months in prison.

All in all, it’s been a favorable turn of events for Farrow. A jury found him guilty of second-degree felony murder in 2001 and the judge handed him an exceptional sentence of 30 years in prison.

Farrow, originally from Michigan, was in Oak Harbor in the fall of 2001 to visit his girlfriend, Faith Ellison, and their 4-year-old daughter. Farrow shot Ellison, a Navy petty officer, in the head while the child was sleeping in the next room.

In 2002, a state Supreme Court ruling in the “Andress” case effectively, and temporarily, threw out the part of the felony murder statute that allowed prosecutors to charge someone with murder for causing an unintentional death during an assault.

The decision affected the convictions of some 300 prison inmates, including Farrow’s. His murder conviction was vacated and the courts sent him back to Island County for re-trial.

Farrow was scheduled to go on trial early next year for first-degree murder, domestic violence, with aggravating allegations and a firearms enhancement. If he had been found guilty, Farrow could have faced far more than 30 years in prison if the jury felt there was reason for an exceptional sentence.

Prosecutors successfully re-tried James Alexander last fall after his second-degree murder conviction was also vacated for the same reason. The jury found the former Oak Harbor resident and Navy sailor guilty of homicide by abuse in the death of his 21-month-old toddler in 1991. The judge sentenced him to just over 33 years in prison.

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