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California judge pleads not guilty to murder in the fatal shooting of his wife


By Michelle Watson and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

(CNN) — An Orange County, California, judge suspected in the fatal shooting of his wife pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the killing Tuesday.

Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ferguson, 72, was arrested by homicide detectives Thursday after they received reports of a shooting at the couple’s home. Ferguson’s wife, Sheryl, was found inside the house, suffering from “at least one gunshot wound,” the Anaheim Police Department said in a news release.

His attorney says the shooting was accidental.

“Sheryl Ferguson was pronounced deceased at the scene,” and her husband was arrested at the location on suspicion of murder, the release states.

Ferguson was released on $1 million bail Friday, Kimberly Edds, with the Orange County District Attorney’s office, told CNN.

He appeared in a Los Angeles County courtroom Tuesday wearing a suit and tie.

He will remain out of custody on bail and agreed to surrender his passport and wear a location monitoring ankle bracelet. His travel is limited to Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.

Ferguson was also ordered to stay away from all sorts of alcoholic beverages and to submit to blood alcohol monitoring.

He’s also not allowed to possess weapons or ammunition of any kind.

“For 40 years, Judge Ferguson protected Orange County as a prosecutor and a judge,” John Barnett, an attorney for Ferguson, told CNN in a phone call. “This tragic family accident is nothing more than an accident and we believe the jury will find that.”

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for October 30.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Taylor Romine contributed to this report.

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