Judge charged with wife’s murder texted court staff, prosecutors say

Posted at 12:55 PM, August 11, 2023 and last updated 9:13 AM, August 16, 2023

By AMY TAXIN Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California judge accused of killing his wife texted his court clerk and bailiff afterward to say he had shot her, prosecutors said Friday as they charged him with murder and sought new bail conditions.

Judge Jeffrey Ferguson mugshot

FILE – In this photo released Aug. 4, 2023, by the Anaheim Police Department, shows Jeffrey Ferguson. Ferguson was arrested late Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 after police received reports of a shooting at the home and found the judge’s wife, Sheryl Ferguson, shot inside, said Anaheim police Sgt. Jon McClintock.(Anaheim Police Department via AP, File)

A court filing from prosecutors says Orange County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson texted: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry.”

Prosecutors also say that 47 weapons and more than 26,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered during a search of his home. A rifle registered in his name is not accounted for, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

The shooting happened after Ferguson and his wife, Sheryl Ferguson, were arguing at a restaurant on Aug. 3, prosecutors said in their court filing. They continued arguing after returning to their home in the upscale neighborhood of Anaheim Hills. The court document says the wife said something to the effect of “why don’t you point a real gun at me?” and he pulled a pistol from his ankle holster and shot her in the chest.

The document says their adult son called 911 and said his father had been drinking too much and shot his mom. Jeffrey Ferguson also called 911 to vaguely report the shooting.

Ferguson, 72, was arrested last week. He was released a day later on $1 million bail.

Prosecutors want Ferguson to surrender his passport and wear an ankle monitor.

Investigators remove firearms from a house

FILE – Investigators remove firearms from a house in the 8500 block of E. Canyon Vista Dr. in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 4, 2023. (Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

Ferguson’s attorneys, Paul Meyer and John Barnett, issued a brief statement and declined to answer questions. “This is a tragedy for the entire Ferguson family. It was an accident and nothing more,” they said.

Ferguson has been a judge since 2015. He handles criminal cases in the Orange County city of Fullerton.

He started his legal career in the Orange County district attorney’s office in 1983 and went on to work narcotics cases, for which he won various awards. He served as president of the North Orange County Bar Association from 2012 to 2014

In 2017, Ferguson was admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for posting a statement on Facebook about a judicial candidate “with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth of the statement” and for being Facebook friends with attorneys appearing before him in court, according to a copy of the agency’s findings.