A 72-year-old Superior Court judge in California has been charged with the drunken murder of his wife. The incident occurred in their plush family home after a seemingly ordinary night out to dinner.
The judge, identified as Jeffrey Ferguson, allegedly confessed to the shooting through a text sent to his bailiff and clerk moments after the tragic event took place.
Jeffrey Ferguson, a prominent figure in the Orange County legal community, is now facing severe allegations.
The judge is accused of using a loaded .40 caliber pistol from his ankle holster to shoot his wife, Sheryl Ferguson, 65, through the chest at close range.
The shocking incident took place in the living room of their Anaheim home on the evening of August 3rd.
According to court documents obtained by Law&Crime, moments after the shooting, the judge allegedly sent a text message to his court clerk and bailiff, confessing to the crime.
The message 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.”
However, the recipients initially thought it was a joke due to the abruptness and gravity of the message.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has filed a bail motion seeking non-monetary conditions to supplement Ferguson’s $1 million bail.
The judge now faces three counts, including murder and firearm charges. He had been released on $1 million bail before the arraignment, which is set for September 1st.
Ferguson’s lawyer, Paul Meyer, sent a statement to Law&Crime on his behalf. Meyer claimed that the incident was a tragedy for the entire Ferguson family and characterized it as an accident with no further intentions.
The drama reportedly escalated after the couple’s dinner outing when Ferguson allegedly mimicked a firearm gesture with his finger towards his wife.
This gesture seemingly marked the beginning of a heated argument that continued for over an hour once they returned home.
Tragically, Sheryl Ferguson’s final moments included a reference to her husband’s earlier action. She uttered, “Why don’t you point a real gun at me?” just before being shot.
Their adult son, who was present during the incident, called 911 to report that his father had been drinking excessively, had engaged in an argument with his mother, and had shot her.
Shortly after, Jeffrey Ferguson himself called 911 to vaguely report the shooting.
When confronted by patrol officers, the judge was allegedly still wearing the empty ankle holster and even made disturbing statements, including a plea for officers to shoot him. His speech was slurred, and he emitted a strong odor of alcohol, according to police reports.
Police body camera footage captured his emotional turmoil and regret, as he made statements such as “f— … f— … what the f— did I … well, I guess I’m done for a while … s—. s— me… s— me… s—… oh my God … my son … my son … f— me … What an a—— I am, Jesus Christ,” and “I’m sorry … I f—– up.”
Upon searching his home, law enforcement discovered an arsenal of 47 firearms, including rifles, shotguns, and a handgun, along with over 26,000 rounds of ammunition, all of which Ferguson legally owned.
The murder weapon, a Glock .40-caliber pistol, was recovered from the scene, and a spent .40-caliber casing was found near the couch.
Ferguson, who had served in the U.S. Navy, had an extensive legal career. He spent over 30 years in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, eventually becoming a judge in 2015.
He was well-respected in the legal community and had earned several accolades, including being named Prosecutor of the Year four times by the Orange County Narcotic Officers Association.
His involvement in the community extended to his presidency of the North Orange County Bar Association from 2012 to 2014.
However, his career was marred by a controversy in 2017 when he was formally rebuked by the Commission on Judicial Performance for a lewd comment posted on his Facebook page.