Criminal justice

Court halts execution of John Ferguson

 

Miami Herald Staff

A federal court on Saturday put the execution of John Ferguson on hold and scheduled arguments for Friday on whether he is, as he contends, insane.

Ferguson, convicted of killing eight people in a 1970s murder spree, had been scheduled to be put to death Tuesday.

Saturday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in Miami came just three days after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that Ferguson was sane and eligible to be executed.

Ferguson’s lawyers said that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and labors under the delusion that he is the “Prince of God.”

“We are pleased that Judge Hurley has stayed the execution of Mr. Ferguson and has concluded that the important constitutional issues raised by Mr. Ferguson’s habeas petition merit full consideration,” Ferguson’s attorney, Chris Handman, said in a news release.

“In order for the state to execute him, Mr. Ferguson must have a rational understanding of the reason for, and effect of, his execution. A man who thinks he is the immortal Prince of God and who believes he is incarcerated because of a Communist plot quite clearly has no rational understanding of the effect of his looming execution and the reason for it.”

The court scheduled three hours of oral arguments in the case for Friday.

Ferguson was convicted of the July 1977 murders of six in Carol City during a home-invasion robbery. At the time, it was the worst mass murder in Dade history.

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

Ferguson was also convicted of attempted murder in the robbery of another couple at a lover’s lane. He was a suspect, but never charged, with the brutal robbery-slaying of an elderly couple at a Miami motel.

Defense attorneys have maintained for decades that Ferguson is severely mentally ill and his execution would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

He has been on death row since 1978.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category