Police line
A search of the house found 47 firearms, all legally held. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Los Angeles: A California judge charged with drunkenly killing his wife with a gun he kept in an ankle holster allegedly texted a colleague after the shooting to say "I won't be in tomorrow. I will be in custody," a court heard Tuesday.

Judge Jeffrey Ferguson had dozens of guns and 26,000 rounds of ammunition at his house when officers arrived to find his wife dead from a gunshot wound to the chest, the court was told.

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."

also read

A court in Los Angeles heard that Ferguson and his wife, Sheryl, began arguing over dinner at a restaurant near their home in an affluent Anaheim suburb.

During the August 3 dispute, the judge had "pointed his finger at his wife in a manner mimicking a firearm," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Alex told the court.

The argument continued at home, where Sheryl Ferguson, 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 and shot" her in the chest at close range.

Ferguson called 911 and asked for a paramedic, saying his wife had been shot.

When a dispatcher asked if he had fired the weapon, he told them he did not want to discuss the issue at the time, Alex told the court.

After getting off the phone, 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.