FLORIDA, United States, Friday March 4, 2011 – A Jamaican man has been sentenced to life in prison in the United States, without possibility of parole, for killing the woman he married to get US citizenship, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
Orane Ferguson, 31, accepted the verdict and sentence quietly on Wednesday and said he did not want to appeal the conviction he got for stabbing 35-year-old Michelle Ferguson 50 times in July 2008.
He was also found guilty of the aggravated battery of the woman’s son, Gabriel Neal.
During the trial, the court heard that the Jamaican had come to the US in 2005 for his brother’s funeral and met Michelle around that time. The two entered into an arrangement to get married so Ferguson could get permanent resident status in the US.
In exchange, Ferguson told the court, he was to help Michelle with her son. However, he said, she soon wanted more than they’d agreed to, including sex and a child with him. He said her demands created problems and tension and they often argued.
On the afternoon of Sunday July 20, 2008, while at home, Michelle began arguing with her husband about only cooking for himself. The row got heated and Ferguson grabbed a knife and ran after his wife who tried to shut herself in the bathroom. He forced stabbing in and stabbed her repeatedly. He also stabbed his stepson in the chest and mouth when the boy went, armed with a knife, to his mother’s aid.
The Jamaican testified that he had simply lost control and didn’t even remember the actual stabbing.
“I saw her, and next thing I know I just went at her. Next thing I remember I was in the bathroom and Gabriel was beating down the door. Some light came in the bathroom and that’s when I realized I was standing over Michelle,” he said in tearful testimony during the trial.
“The only memory that I really got at the time was me punching her, just punching her, punching her, punching her. But then reality hit me,” he said. “I realized I was stabbing her.”
But Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis called Ferguson’s memory “selective”, saying that the time he took to get the knife, chase his wife, knock down the door and stab her 50 times was “more than enough time for reflection.”
Ferguson’s attorney, Willie Pura, had argued for a manslaughter conviction, saying that the killing was not premeditated and his client had “just snapped”.