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California: Orange County Judge Faces Trial for Murdering Wife Amid Financial Dispute

June 21, 2024




Anaheim, CA – A preliminary hearing on Thursday provided harrowing details about the night Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson allegedly shot and killed his wife, Sheryl, after an argument over money escalated fatally at their Anaheim home.

When Anaheim police arrived at the scene on August 3, they found Ferguson sitting on a planter, visibly distraught. “Just shoot me,” he reportedly told an officer who had approached him with a less-than-lethal shotgun.

During the hearing, where Judge Eleanor Hunter ruled there was probable cause for Ferguson to stand trial for murder, witnesses described the chaotic aftermath of the shooting. The Fergusons’ 22-year-old son, Phillip, had called 911 around 8 p.m. to report that his father had shot his mother. Testifying officers recounted Ferguson’s remorseful and erratic behavior as he stood in handcuffs outside his home, while officers inside attempted to revive his wife.

Officer Joshua Juntilla testified that Ferguson, smelling of alcohol and crying, expressed deep regret and fear of his son’s lifelong resentment. “What did I do? My son will hate me forever,” Ferguson reportedly said, asking for his son to punch him as a form of retribution.

Inside the home, police discovered Sheryl Ferguson lying face up near a sliding glass door, shot once in the abdomen. Nearby, they found a Glock handgun on the kitchen floor, an overturned leather chair with a bullet lodged in it, and a single cartridge casing on the carpet.

Detective Michael Nguyen, who interviewed Phillip Ferguson that night, described the young man as traumatized, wearing pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, with his hands coated in dried blood from trying to save his mother. Phillip recounted the evening’s events, including a dinner at El Cholo where his parents argued about money, a recurring source of tension. After returning home, the family watched an episode of “Breaking Bad.” The argument resumed, and as Phillip was about to leave the room, he heard his mother challenge his father to point a real gun at her. He then saw his father shoot his mother without uttering a word.

Phillip told police he wrestled the gun away from his father to prevent him from harming himself and then called 911. He also mentioned that while his parents frequently argued about finances, they had never become physically violent before. He suggested his father might have shot his mother by accident, noting a previous incident where Ferguson discharged a firearm into their bathroom floor while intoxicated.

Prosecutors revealed that police seized 47 guns and over 26,000 rounds of ammunition from the Ferguson residence.

Despite Phillip’s assertion that the shooting might have been accidental, Judge Hunter ruled against dismissing the murder charge. “While I appreciate the son’s opinion that this was accidental — bless his heart — he’s in a horrible position,” she said, emphasizing that Ferguson, as a judge and former deputy district attorney, was well aware of the dangers of handling firearms.

Judge Hunter, presiding over the case in Los Angeles due to potential conflicts of interest in Orange County, concluded that there was sufficient evidence for Ferguson to stand trial for murder. Ferguson remains free on $1-million bail, under GPS and alcohol monitoring restrictions.


Credit: Los Angeles Times

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