Jurors don’t see intent to kill as they reach consensus on manslaughter

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After about two and a half hours of total deliberations, the jury in the John “JW” Ferguson murder trial decided to convict him on a lesser charge of manslaughter. Ferguson will face up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 6.

The verdict was read at 11:38 a.m. Wednesday. Ferguson, age 38, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and third-degree possession of a weapon in the stabbing death of his older brother, Daryl Ferguson.

Ferguson had been charged with second-degree murder, but the jury found him not guilty of that charge. Because of that decision, they were allowed to then consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The difference is whether or not Ferguson intended to kill his brother or only intended to cause him serious physical harm.

“Based on the way the evidence went in — the defendant’s testimony was a consideration — it’s something that we wanted the jury to be able to consider, if they didn’t believe that his intent was actually to kill his brother, but to seriously injure him,” explained Assistant District Attorney Todd C. Carville, the prosecutor.

“We wanted them to have that opportunity to consider that.”

Carville argued that Ferguson intended to kill his brother in the early morning hours of July 17, 2018, at the home they shared with their mother at 10 Jones Place in Yorkville. Carville told the jury in his closing argument that Ferguson stabbed his brother in five precise locations to cause Daryl’s death, after ambushing Daryl in the bedroom they shared.

“It was a very difficult case. There were both legal concepts that were difficult to grasp, and I think they did a good job in grasping those,” Carville stated.

“It’s an emotional case, because it’s family-related. And I think all those things factored into their decision.”

John Ferguson took the stand in his own defense on Monday. He told the jury that his brother Daryl was the aggressor and was trying to pick a fight with him in their mother’s home.

Ferguson testified that he tried to avoid Daryl on several occasions in the home, then grabbed the knife from the kitchen because he was afraid.

Ferguson told the jury that he stabbed his brother when Daryl confronted him in the bedroom and reached for the knife.

He said the other stab wounds were a result of a struggle between the two brothers, and that he never intended to kill or hurt his brother.

“We’re totally, absolutely, 100-percent disappointed. We felt he was justified,” said Public Defender Luke Nebush, Ferguson’s defense attorney.

“We thought we had a strong argument for a self-defense claim,” Nebush stated. “I don’t know what was going through the jury’s minds in their deliberations.”

The Ferguson family, and additional loved ones, declined to comment following the verdict.