(VitalNews.org) – Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, was arrested on August 3 on suspicion of fatally shooting his wife, Sheryl Ferguson, 65. The Orange County Superior Court judge, who has held his position since being appointed in 2015, is alleged to have shot Sheryl in the chest during a drunken argument witnessed by their adult son.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office stated that the couple had been out to dinner earlier in the evening and had argued. During the course of the argument, Jeffrey is said to have pointed his fingers at his wife in a gesture reminiscent of shooting a gun. After returning home, Sheryl is reported to have asked him why he didn’t use a real gun when he made the gesture. In response, Jeffrey pulled his Glock .40 handgun from his ankle holster and shot her in the chest.
Their son, Phillip, called 911 for help. Jeffrey also placed a 911 call but refused to discuss who had shot his wife with the call handler, only asking for paramedics to be sent. Prosecutors say that police bodycam footage shows an intoxicated Jeffrey slurring his words and swearing about his actions that evening. Prosecutors also allege that only minutes after the shooting, he texted his court bailiff and clerk to apologize in advance for his absence from work the next day, and confessing to killing his wife.
Emergency responders found Sheryl dead at the scene, and Jeffrey was arrested. He was bailed the following day on a $1 million bail after being charged with first-degree murder and faces two firearm-related enhancements that could see him receive a total sentence of 40 years in state prison, should he be convicted. He has been ordered not to contact his son unless under a few particular circumstances and must wear an electronic tracking device while on bail.
Prosecutors say that according to the couple’s son, he had not witnessed any past instances of domestic violence, but that his father could become “heated” when he was intoxicated. He is also reported to have told police that his mother had once had to talk his father out of committing suicide after Jeffrey pointed a gun at his own head.
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