The California judge charged with murdering his wife allegedly confessed his crime to staff members in a text sent moments after the shooting, claim prosecutors.
Judge Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, is accused of shooting his wife Sheryl Ferguson, 65, after the two spent the night arguing at a local restaurant and then their Anaheim home according to a bail motion filed late Friday afternoon by the defendant’s former employer of over three decades, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry,” read the texts Jeffrey Ferguson sent to staff accoridng to a bail motion filed by prosecutors.
“This is a tragedy for the entire Ferguson family,” Ferguson’s attorneys John Barnett and Paul Meyer said in a statement. “It was an accident and nothing more.”
The defendant left the district attorney’s office in 2014 after being elected to serve as a judge on the Orange County Superior Court.
Prosecutors claim that Ferguson texted two of his staff members at the court in the aftermath of the fatal shooting, writing in a bail motion that the judge sent a message to his court clerk and bailiff that read: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry.”
Meanwhile, the complaint in the case alleges that there is an eyewitness who witnessed both the shooting and the events leading up to it – the couple’s adult son.
He called 911 according to the complaint after allegedly watching his father pull a pistol out of his ankle holster and then shoot his mother in the chest at close range. The bail motion says that the son told the dispatcher that his father had been drinking and shot his mother.
The Anaheim Police Department declared her dead at the scene.
According to the bail motion, Ferguson said to police officers at the scene, “Oh man, I can’t believe I did this.”
A search warrant obtained by prosecutors then led to the discovery of 47 firearms and 26,000 rounds of ammunition in the home. Those firearms, and an additional rifle later turned over by Ferguson’s attorneys, were all legally owned.
Jail records show officers arrested Ferguson on Thursday, and that after spending the night at a detention center he was released on Friday afternoon after posting $1 million bail.
Prosecutors also requested a number of additional non-monetary bail conditions as a condition of Ferguson’s release, which include:
- Surrender passport to the court
- Consent to revocation of Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit
- Possess no firearm of any kind, and no ammunition of any kind
- Submit to search and seizure
- Remain in Orange County, Riverside County, or Los Angeles County
- Wear at all times, and make no effort to tamper with, an ankle bracelet with GPS capability, progress to be monitored by the Probation Department
- Do not enter the property line of any airport
- Have no contact with his son who was present during the homicide, except: through counsel of record; or circumstances under which the son consents to personal, telephonic, verbal or video chat contact, and the son is accompanied throughout such contact by a chaperone that is either an attorney in good standing with the State of California or individual otherwise approved by the Court
- Consume no alcohol
- Possess no alcohol
- Do not enter the premises of any liquor store, tavern, or establishment where alcohol is the primary item of sale
The family of Sheryl Ferguson is asking for privacy at this time and are planning to celebrate her life at a memorial service this Sunday. Her husband will not be in attendance.
“The service for Sheryl is meant to honor her memory and mourn her passing,” said Ferguson’s lawyers Meyer and Barnett in a statement. “We believe that Judge Ferguson’s physical presence would be a distraction, and out of respect, and with his understanding, we have advised him not to attend or to express what we know are his sincere feelings. In spirit, he joins the friends and family in celebrating her life and in their grief.”
Ferguson is charged with murder, the discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death, and personal use of a firearm.