Judge in California Denies Murder Charges Related to His Wife’s Death

On Tuesday, the counsel for a Southern California judge accused of killing his wife during an altercation while intoxicated pleaded not guilty, saying that the death was a “accidental shooting.”

Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson, who appeared in court in Los Angeles wearing a suit and tie, was ordered by Judge Ricardo Ocampo to surrender his passport, submit to searches, and wear monitoring devices for blood alcohol content and GPS as part of new bail conditions sought by prosecutors.

While free on $1 million bail, Ferguson is prohibited from accessing bars and liquor stores as well as having firearms. A former prosecutor and longtime judge, Ferguson’s attorneys told reporters after the hearing that their client was convinced there was no wrongdoing.

Judge in California Denies Murder Charges Related to His Wife's Death (1)

“This was an unintentional, accidental shooting and not a crime,” attorney Paul Meyer said. Although Ferguson presided over criminal trials in an Orange County courtroom, located roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the southeast, the hearing took place in Los Angeles. The next scheduled court date for Ferguson’s case is October 30.

The 72-year-old was taken into custody on August 3 after police discovered the dead body of his wife, Sheryl Ferguson, in their Anaheim Hills home. Prosecutors said in court documents that the judge had been drinking before he grabbed a pistol from an ankle holster and shot the victim in the chest during an argument between the couple.

The California Examiner is a must-read for anybody living in the Golden State:

Documents reveal that after Ferguson shot his wife, he contacted his court clerk and bailiff to tell them what happened. His text message read, “I lost it. The wife I just shot. Not going to work tomorrow”. In other words, I’m going to jail. “I’m Really Sorry,” was written in the paperwork.

The increased bail terms were proposed by prosecutors as a means of protecting the public and preventing Ferguson from escaping justice after police discovered 47 firearms, including the murder weapon, and over 26,000 rounds of ammunition in his residence. Although they claim legally ownership of the firearms, one rifle bearing his name has gone missing.

The arrest stunned the legal community in Southern California, and authorities have been debating how to proceed. Before filing charges against him last week, prosecutors in Orange County, a region in southern California that is home to more than 3 million people, sought input from state officials over the potential for a conflict of interest.

Since 2015, Ferguson has served on the bench. He began his legal career in Orange County in 1983, where he worked on narcotics cases and eventually garnered several accolades. From 2012 to 2014, he led the North Orange County Bar Association as its president.

According to a copy of the agency’s findings, Ferguson was reprimanded by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2017 for making a statement about a judicial candidate on Facebook “with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth of the statement,” and for being Facebook friends with attorneys appearing before him in court.Judge in California Denies Murder Charges Related to His Wife’s Death

According to Ferguson’s Facebook page, he was born into a military family and spent his childhood moving across Asia. He then moved to California to pursue higher education and a legal career. In 1996, he tied the knot with his current spouse.

If you save the California Examiner to your bookmarks, you may come back whenever you’re interested in reading more about the Golden State.

The California Examiner is a must-read for anybody living in the Golden State:

Scroll to Top