First off, theres nothing good to be said about John Errol Ferguson, a cold, vicious killer, implicated in eight ghastly murders.
On July 27, 1977, Ferguson was one of three masked gunmen who burst into a Carol City home looking for drugs. Ferguson and an accomplice forced six of the occupants to lay face-down on the floor and then shot them, one by one, in the back of the head. Six months later in Hialeah, Ferguson surprised a teenaged couple sitting in their car. He killed them both, after brutally raping the girl.
Like I said, theres nothing positive to be said about John Errol Ferguson. He was a horror. His execution, scheduled for Thursday, might even bring a perverse notion of justice for two of his accomplices in the Carol City massacre. Theyre long gone. Marvin Francois went to the electric chair in 1985. And Beauford James White, who never fired a shot that day, was electrocuted two years later.
But the righteous sense of retribution thats supposed to come with killing a killer might go lacking in Fergusons case, given that the guy theyre strapping onto the death gurney thinks the Florida Department of Corrections is only preparing him for heavenly ascension, and that hell soon be heading back our way as the Prince of God, the very heir apparent to the creator (with whom he has had many intimate conversations) on a heavenly mission to bust up a big communist plot.
Ferguson is crazy. Hes delusional. Hes a paranoid schizophrenic. He lacks what his lawyer calls rational appreciation of the death penalty. Even for fervent advocates of capital punishment, thats got to take a bit of the fun out of execution day.
His madness was not some recent, feigned malady, contrived during his 34 years on death row to keep him out of the death chamber. Court records document that Ferguson was diagnosed back in 1965 with visual hallucinations. After a series of felony arrests, and a gunshot wound to the head, he was trucked off to state mental institutions in 1971, where a psychiatrist decided he was a paranoid schizophrenic with severely damaged ability to distinguish right from wrong. Another doctor that year recommended a long commitment in a mental hospital rather than bother with a criminal trial, given that Ferguson suffered from a major mental disorder which prevents him from aiding counsel.
In 1973, he had deteriorated to a psychotic state. In 1974, he was found grossly psychotic. And yet another doctor said Ferguson did not know right from wrong nor the nature and consequences of his acts. And in 1975, a court-appointed doctor echoed that finding, adding The degree of irrationality coupled with a rather impulsive, explosive and aggressive nature makes him a rather dangerous person both to himself and to others. Another declared Ferguson a paranoidally disturbed person with many somatic delusions and many ideas of a rather bizarre and persecutory nature.
And finally a diagnosis in 1975 came with a warning that reads, in retrospect, like prophecy. He has a long-standing, severe illness which will most likely require long-term inpatient hospitalization. This man is dangerous and cannot be released under any circumstances.
Yet, in an act of bureaucratic insanity, less than a year later Ferguson was released from state custody, this diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was delusional and impulsive and explosive and aggressive and dangerous. And with one more aspect of his bent personality yet to be diagnosed: murderous.