By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A judge in California suspected to have acted under the influence of alcohol by killing his wife with a gun, has appeared in court on murder charges.
Prosecutors said Judge Jeffrey Ferguson who was charged before a court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, had dozens of guns and 26,000 rounds of ammunition at his home when police officers arrived to find his wife dead from a gunshot wound on her chest.
Prosecutors said Ferguson, 72, who sits on Orange County Superior Court, smelled strongly of alcohol when he was arrested and told police, “Well, I guess I’m done for a while.”
Ferguson and his wife, Sheryl, had an altercation over dinner at a restaurant near their home in an affluent Anaheim suburb, prosecutors told the court.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Alex told the court that during the argument between the couple in Aug. 3, Ferguson had “pointed his finger at his wife in a manner mimicking a firearm.”
The argument continued at home, where his wife, 65, said “words to the effect of: ‘Why don’t you point a real gun at me?’” Alex said.
It was at this point Ferguson “retrieved his pistol from his ankle holster where it was kept and shot” her in the chest at close range.
Ferguson after the act called 911 and asked for a paramedic, saying his wife had been shot.
When a dispatcher asked if he was the one who fired the weapon, he told them he did not want to discuss the issue at the time, Alex told the court.
After dropping the call, Ferguson texted his court clerk and bailiff to say: “I just lost it. I just shot my wife. I won’t be in tomorrow. I will be in custody. I’m so sorry,” Alex said.
A search of the house found 47 firearms, all legally held.
Ferguson, who has been a judge since 2015, denied having committed murder when he appeared in court Tuesday.
Lawyer Paul Meyer told reporters outside court: “We want to be clear this was an unintentional, accidental shooting and not a crime.”
Ferguson was released on bail, and ordered not to drink.
He is expected to appear in court again on October 30.