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‘I Won’t Be In Tomorrow’: California Judge Accused of Fatally Shooting Wife, Texting Court Employees Minutes Later to Call Off Work

california judge fatally shot wife text court he wouldnt be into work next day
Source: Anaheim Police Department; Unsplash

Aug. 16 2023, Published 9:49 a.m. ET

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A superior court judge in California has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of his wife, and authorities said minutes after the alleged crime occurred, he texted his court clerk and bailiff that he wouldn’t “be in tomorrow” because he'd "be in custody.”

Around 8 p.m. on Aug. 3, police responded to a home in Anaheim Hill following a report of a shooting, officials said.

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Responding officers found 65-year-old Sheryl Ferguson suffering at least one gunshot wound inside the home. She died at the scene, police said.

Court documents show 72-year-old Jeffrey Ferguson and his wife began to argue at a restaurant, KNBC reported.

The couple, court documents state, then went home and the dispute continued, with the victim saying something to the effect of “Why don’t you point a real gun at me?”

In response, Ferguson allegedly pulled a pistol from his ankle holster and shot her in the chest, court documents state.

The couple’s adult son called 911 to report the shooting.

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Court documents state Ferguson texted his court clerk and bailiff minutes after the shooting: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry."

Police said Ferguson smelled of alcohol and allegedly told them, “Oh man, I can’t believe I did this.”


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Ferguson was arrested and charged with one felony count each of murder, enhancement of personal use of a firearm, and a felony enhancement of discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death, authorities said.

He posted bond and was released from custody the next day. If convicted on all counts, Ferguson faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in prison, officials said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said they recovered “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.” However, “the whereabouts of the .22 rifle remain unknown,” KNBC reported.

Paul Meyer and John Barnett, Ferguson’s attorneys, said in a statement, “This is a tragedy for the entire Ferguson family. It was an accident and nothing more.”


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