Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson has been charged with multiple felonies in the shooting death of his wife at their Anaheim Hills home last week, and crime prosecutors say he confessed to his courtroom coworkers.
Ferguson, 72, is accused of shooting 65-year-old Sheryl Ferguson on Aug. 3, then texting his court clerk and bailiff that he “just lost it,” according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and reporting by the Associated Press.
“I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry,” Ferguson allegedly wrote.
According to AP, prosecutors claim that after an argument at a restaurant, the Fergusons returned home, where the dispute continued.
After Sheryl Ferguson said something to the effect of “Why don’t you point a real gun at me?” the judge produced a pistol from his ankle holster and shot her in the chest, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
The Fergusons’ adult son, who reported the shooting to police, alleged that his father was drunk, prosecutors said.
Jeffrey Ferguson faces a felony murder charge with two felony enhancements for personal use of a firearm and discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. If convicted on all counts, he could face 40 years to life in prison.
Ferguson, who was a prosecutor before he became a judge in 2015, was released on $1 million bail.
While there were no conditions to his initial release from jail, prosecutors are seeking restrictions to be placed on Ferguson now that charges have been filed.
The OCDA’s Office wants Ferguson to surrender his passport; remain in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties; wear an ankle GPS monitor; allow his concealed weapon permit to be revoked; possess no guns, ammunition or alcohol; and avoid contact with his son who reported the shooting, except under certain circumstances.
“Among the People’s concerns is the fact that a .22 rifle legally registered to Ferguson remains unaccounted for despite police recovering 47 other weapons – including rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and more than 26,000 rounds of ammunition – from his home during the execution of a search warrant,” the OCDA’s Office said in a news release. “Another rifle, initially missed by police, was subsequently located in the home and turned over to police by defense counsel, but the whereabouts of the .22 rifle remain unknown.”
Prosecutors have requested that the additional stipulations be discussed at Ferguson’s arraignment, which they’d like to advance to Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the Orange County courts system said Friday afternoon that the case will be handled by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office but will be presided over by a Los Angeles County judge.