Courts

High court rejects appeal from Miami Death Row inmate slated for execution

 

John Errol Ferguson, convicted of murdering eight people, lost a round Monday before the Florida Supreme Court, but several other appeals are still pending.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal aimed at stopping the execution of convicted Miami mass murderer John Errol Ferguson.

Justices upheld the decision of a Miami-Dade judge who rejected Ferguson’s legal claims as having been filed too late. Ferguson’s attorneys are appealing chiefly on the grounds that he is mentally ill and his execution would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

For now, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, Ferguson is scheduled for execution Oct. 16. However, many separate appeals are still in the works, including another request for a stay filed Monday afternoon.

The Miami man was convicted in 1978 of the murders of six Carol City residents during a home-invasion robbery. At the time, it was the worst mass murder in Miami-Dade history.

Ferguson, now 64, also was convicted separately of murdering two teenagers, Belinda Worley, a 17-year-old Hialeah High School senior, and Brian Glenfeldt, 17, in January 1978.

The two teens had gone out for ice cream, and Ferguson pretended to be a police officer when he stopped them. He shot Glenfeldt to death and raped and murdered Worley, and stole her class ring.

His lawyers had asked for a hearing to determine his competency. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie, while saying Ferguson “undoubtedly suffers from mental illness,” denied the request as “untimely.”

The battle over Ferguson’s mental health is not over yet.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Ferguson’s lawyers will present evidence of his mental health to a judge in Bradford County, where the execution is set to take place.

According to his lawyers, Ferguson’s mind is so ravaged that he regularly “communicates” with his dead father and is tormented by “delusions and hallucinations.” Ferguson suffered a tumultuous home life and was shot in the head as a young man, according to his Washington, D.C.-based defense lawyer Christopher Handman.

Ferguson’s attorneys have also filed a civil lawsuit in federal court challenging Florida’s use of lethal injection.

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