HomeNewsLocalOrange County Judge Pleads Not Guilty to Shooting Wife

Orange County Judge Pleads Not Guilty to Shooting Wife

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson pleaded not guilty Friday in downtown Los Angeles to a murder charge for allegedly shooting and killing his wife during an argument in their Anaheim Hills home last August.

Ferguson, whose case is being heard in Los Angeles due to his ties to the Orange County court, was previously ordered to stand trial in the case.

He remains free on bond. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Sept. 20.

Ferguson is charged with murder and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal use of a firearm. He is accused of killing his wife, Sheryl, Aug. 3, 2023, at their Anaheim Hills home.

Anaheim Police Department officers arrested Ferguson after they were called to his home in the 8500 block of East Canyon Vista Drive just after 8 p.m. Aug. 3 on reports of a shooting. Inside the home, officers found 65-year- old Sheryl Ferguson, the judge’s wife, suffering from at least one gunshot wound, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Jonathan McClintock.

Sheryl Ferguson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeffrey Ferguson was freed on bail the next day.

In a bail motion last year, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Alex said Ferguson shot his wife “through the chest in the living room of their home in Anaheim.”

The prosecutor alleged the judge used a “loaded 40-caliber pistol that he pulled from his ankle holster. He shot her at close range. He did so while intoxicated. His adult son witnessed the homicide.”

The dispute began earlier in the evening while the couple argued during a dinner at a restaurant near their home, Alex said.

Ferguson “pointed his finger at his wife in a manner mimicking a firearm,” Alex said, adding that the conflict continued at home “periodically” for about an hour.

Referring to the hand gesture at dinner, Sheryl Ferguson allegedly said moments before her husband opened fire “words to the effect of: `Why don’t you point a real gun at me?”‘ Alex alleged.

Ferguson “retrieved his pistol from his ankle holster and shot (his wife) center mass,” Alex alleged.

Ferguson’s son called 911 and the judge did so as well. When a dispatcher asked the judge if he shot his wife, he said he did not want to discuss that at the time and when asked again, he said she needed paramedics, Alex said.

Minutes later, Alex alleged, Ferguson sent a text message to his court clerk and bailiff, saying, “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry.”

The clerk and bailiff assumed he was joking, Alex said.

When officers arrived, Ferguson “slurred words and smelled of alcohol,” and their body-worn cameras caught him saying, “… well, I guess I’m done for a while … oh my God … my son … my son… I’m sorry … I (expletive) up … Oh man, I can’t believe I did this,” Alex alleged.

Seven hours after the shooting investigators got a blood sample from Ferguson, which showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.06.

His son told police that his father is more “heated” when drinking and arguing with his wife, Alex said.

His son “reported that, a few years prior, (Sheryl Ferguson) reported to him that defendant had attempted suicide with a gun,” Alex said. The son also said another time Ferguson discharged a gun while alone in a bathroom at the house.

The son did not witness the shooting and characterized it as an accidental discharge to officers, Alex said.

The Fergusons have two sons, Kevin and Phillip, both adults.

Jeffrey Ferguson, a native of Oakland, earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and social ecology from UC Irvine in 1973. He earned his law degree in 1982 from Western State College of Law, beginning his legal career the following year in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, where he later became a senior prosecutor assigned to the Major Narcotics Enforcement Team.

He was president of the North Orange County Bar Association from 2012- 14. The Orange County Narcotics Officers Association awarded him prosecutor of the year four times. He became a judge in 2015.

In 2017, he was admonished by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for comments he made on Facebook about a prosecutor who was campaigning to be a jurist and for maintaining “friends” status with three defense attorneys who had cases before him.

Sheryl Ferguson previously worked for the Santa Barbara and Orange County probation departments and later for the American Funds Service Company for almost 20 years prior to becoming a full-time mother. Her brother described her as “very, very active in the community,” including the Boy Scouts.

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