47 Weapons Seized as California Judge Is Charged in Killing of His Wife
A Southern California judge accused of killing his wife texted his court clerk and bailiff admitting to the killing, prosecutors said on Friday as they charged him with murder and weapon possession.
The judge, Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, of Orange County Superior Court, was arrested on Aug. 3 after police officers found his wife, Sheryl Ferguson, 65, dead from a gunshot wound inside the couple’s home in Anaheim, Calif.
On Friday, prosecutors charged Judge Ferguson with murder, personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death, and personal use of a firearm, according to a criminal complaint. His status as a judge was not immediately clear on Friday.
The shooting came after an argument the Fergusons had at a restaurant that evening and that continued at their home, according to court documents.
At dinner, Judge Ferguson mimicked shooting Mrs. Ferguson with his fingers, court documents said, and once home, Mrs. Ferguson said “words to the effect of: ‘why don’t you point a real gun at me?’” according to the documents.
Shortly after, Judge Ferguson pulled a pistol from an ankle holster and shot her in the chest at close range.
The Fergusons’ adult son, who had been with his parents that evening, called 911 and reported that his father had been drinking too much and shot his mother, according to court documents.
Judge Ferguson also called 911 to report the shooting but when asked if he shot his wife, the judge brushed off the question and asked for an ambulance, the complaint said.
Afterward, according to court documents, Judge Ferguson texted his court clerk and bailiff saying: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry.”
When officers arrived, they found Mrs. Ferguson fatally shot in the living room. Judge Ferguson smelled of alcohol, the court documents said, and he was still wearing the ankle holster, which was empty.
“Oh man, I can’t believe I did this,” he told officers, according to court documents.
Prosecutors also said that 47 weapons, including the murder weapon, and more than 26,000 rounds of ammunition were found in a search of Judge Ferguson’s home after the shooting.
Officials said the weapons were legally owned, according to court documents. One rifle registered in his name was unaccounted for, they said.
Judge Ferguson posted $1 million bail after his arrest, but prosecutors are now seeking new conditions, including surrendering his passport, having him wear an ankle monitor and restricting contact with his son, who witnessed the killing.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Judge Ferguson’s lawyers, Paul Meyer and John Barnett, said, “This is a tragedy for the entire Ferguson family.”
“It was an accident and nothing more,” the lawyer said.
Judge Ferguson had been a member of Orange County’s legal community for years.
He received his law degree from Western State College of Law in Irvine, Calif., in 1982. A year later, he went to work for the county district attorney and was elected as a Superior Court judge in 2014.
While he was honored multiple times by various law groups over the years, his career was marred by admonishments from the California Commission on Judicial Performance.
In 2017, the commission admonished him for posting a statement on Facebook about a candidate for judicial office with “knowing or reckless disregard for the truth of the statement,” according to commission documents.
He was also admonished by the commission that year for “being Facebook friends with attorneys who were appearing regularly before him in court,” according to commission documents.
Remy Tumin is a reporter for The Times covering breaking news and other topics. More about Remy Tumin
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