STARKE -- After a life of bloodshed on the streets of Miami-Dade, then 35 years lingering on Death Row, Miami murderer John Errol Ferguson’s eyes darted to the execution supervisor looming over him.
“I just want everyone to know that I am the Prince of God and I will rise again,” Ferguson mumbled.
Then, the jowly and grayed 65-year-old rustled his feet underneath the white sheet of the gurney, lifted his head and peered intently at the witness window of the death chamber. At 6:01 p.m. Monday, the lethal drugs pumped through his veins, his head rested down, his mouth gasped and life slowly and quietly slipped away.
Ferguson, a killer of eight and at one time responsible for the largest mass slaughter in Miami-Dade history, was pronounced dead 6:17 p.m.
His execution caps a legacy of violence dating back to 1977, as well as a high-profile legal fight over whether Ferguson’s longtime schizophrenia and stated belief that he is the “Prince of God” made his execution a cruel and unusual punishment.
Michael Worley, whose 17-year-old sister Belinda Worley was raped and shot to death in 1978, said he believed Ferguson’s insanity was “fabricated and coached” even until the end.
“Thank goodness justice finally prevailed and he was finally executed,” Worley told the Miami Herald on Monday night. “I think he got off easy compared to what he did to the victims.”
Ferguson’s lawyers, who witnessed Monday’s execution, had fought for years to spare Ferguson, saying the man had a 40-year history of mental illness dating back to well before the murders.
Lawyer Christopher Handman criticized the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Monday afternoon denied a last-minute appeal to stay the execution.
“He has a fixed delusion that he is the ‘Prince of God’ who cannot be killed and will rise up after his execution to fight alongside Jesus and save America from a communist plot,” Handman said. “He has no rational understanding of the reason for his execution or the effect the death penalty will have upon him.”
Ferguson was the fifth Florida Death Row inmate to be executed since December.
In May, Gov. Rick Scott also signed a death warrant for Miami killer Marshall Lee Gore, but his execution has twice been stayed as his lawyers seek to halt it based on claims he, too, is mentally ill and should not executed. In recent months, Scott has accelerated the pace of death warrants.
Ferguson was one of the state’s longest serving Death Row inmates.
Prosecutors convicted Ferguson of the July 1977 shotgun murders of six people in Carol City during a home-invasion robbery. At the time, it was considered the worst mass murder in Miami-Dade history.
The dead: Livingstone Stocker, 33; Michael Miller, 24; Henry Clayton, 35; John Holmes, 26; Gilbert Williams, 37, and Charles Cesar Stinson, 35. Two survived: Johnnie Hall, 45, and Margaret Wooden, 24.
Ferguson was also convicted separately of murdering Worley and Glenfeldt, both 17-year-old Hialeah High students, in January 1978. The two had gone for ice cream, then parked at a field known as a popular lover’s lane.
Police said Ferguson tried robbing the couple, shooting Glenfeldt behind the wheel of his mother’s 1974 Pontiac LeMans, while Worley’s body was discovered a quarter-mile away; she had been raped and shot.