John Errol Ferguson is mentally competent to be executed for the murders of eight people in Miami in the 1970s, a Bradford judge ruled Friday.
Ferguson, 64, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Florida State Prison in Bradford County. Appeals will continue in the coming days.
Defense attorneys have maintained for decades that Ferguson is severely mentally ill and his execution would be “cruel and unusual punishment.” Bradford Circuit Judge David Glant listened to two days of testimony this week before issuing his ruling Friday.
Glant acknowledged that Ferguson has a history of schizophrenia but that he exists now trouble free in prison and “there is no evidence that he does not understand” that he is to be executed for eight murders.
The judge also noted that while Ferguson claims he is the “Prince of God” and will be seated at the “right-hand” of God after his death, his beliefs are not “significantly different than beliefs other Christians may hold,” Glant wrote in his order.
Ferguson’s defense attorney, Christopher Handman, blasted the court’s ruling.
“It is impossible to fathom that the State can constitutionally put to death a man who thinks he is the Prince of God and who believes he has a destiny of being the right hand of God and returning to purify earth after the State tries to kill him,” he said in a statement. “That simply is not a rational appreciation for what's about to befall him.”
Ferguson was convicted of the July 1977 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.