Murder trial begins for father accused of killing Christian Ferguson

A trial began Monday for the father accused of killing his disabled son.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 7:54 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 12:25 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) - A trial began Monday for the father accused of killing his disabled son.

It’s been nearly two decades since Christian Ferguson, a 9-year-old with special needs, vanished. Fast forward to 2022, his father Dawan Ferguson now stands trial inside a St. Louis County courtroom for his murder. St. Louis County prosecutors charged Dawan Ferguson with first-degree murder in 2019.

Christian Ferguson had a rare metabolic disorder called Citrullinemia, that prevented his body from processing protein. He couldn’t walk or talk. His condition required medical attention, knowledge about warning signs and proper treatment. A probable cause statement stated Dawan Ferguson failed to provide Christian with proper medication and nutrition for more than two years, before leaving home with the child on June 11, 2003. Around 6:07 a.m. that day, Dawan Ferguson reported someone had carjacked his running vehicle while his son was inside.

Court documents allege he would have died within 48 hours without proper medication.

The vehicle was found close by but the boy was never seen again. Christian Ferguson’s disappearance happened days before the court system ordered to restore visitation with his mother, Theda Thomas.

When asked what led to charges being filed in the case after so long, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said the case had been reviewed and the charges were a result of a “fresh set of eyes” looking over evidence. Investigators were reportedly interested in Dawan Ferguson from practically the very beginning of his son’s disappearance. Parts of his story were said to be inconsistent and he stopped cooperating with police.

Christian Ferguson’s body has never been found and he is presumed to be dead.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Shortly before 9 a.m., St. Louis County Assistant Prosecutor John Schlesinger alluded Dawan Ferguson used his son’s disappearance as a cover-up for his death during his opening statement.

“Christian Ferguson has never been recovered, but the evidence will show that he was never missing,” said Schlesinger.

While playing a home video of the 9-year-old boy, prosecutors said he “looked like any other boy walking, talking, playing with family. You wouldn’t know he had any genetic disorder.”

His condition allegedly declined in 2001 when Dawan Ferguson had full custody.

“That was when he became the disabled little boy everyone heard about on the news. He never needed to get to that point,” he continued. “He had to go back to diapers and had a feeding tube inserted to receive nutrition and medications.”

On March 22, 2003, Thomas kissed her son goodbye as she took him to the hospital at the end of her visitation session. Thomas said her son appeared “lethargic, bumping into things.”

That was the last time she saw her son, the prosecution added.

Ferguson’s public defender Jemia Steele disputes the prosecutor’s claims.

“Dawan Ferguson did not kill his son,” Steele began. “He noticed Christian was sick and his cellphone was out of minutes so he stopped to call ahead to the hospital from a payphone.”

June 10 was the focus of Schlesinger’s opening statement.

Schlesinger outlined how a sibling who shared a room with Christian Ferguson heard a struggle before the father allegedly wrapped the boy in a blanket and carried him out of the room. Within days, Christian Ferguson’s face was plastered on missing person’s flyers. Pine Lawn residents reportedly told investigators Dawan Ferguson’s vehicle was parked in the area where it was found hours before the 911 call was made.

WITNESSES

The prosecution also called its first few witnesses Monday, including Thomas, who spoke about the last time she saw her son in March 2003 during a scheduled visitation. She discussed the dire condition he was in.

“He didn’t look himself. He didn’t seem healthy. He made me feel like he could be going into a crisis, or experiencing a crisis,” she said. ”He looked lethargic, he was bumping into things. He wasn’t presentable, but had clothes on.”

A licensed practical nurse that worked with Christian Ferguson also took the stand Monday. Trdell Overby said she would buy him food and have him wear his son’s clothes. She recalled that when she would go to get Christian Ferguson, she could smell urine in Dawan Ferguson’s household and the boy would be wearing a double-soaked diaper, which would be wrapped twice to prevent leakage but would also go down to his leg.

Overby said she reported the conditions to her agency but never reported anything to the police because she was afraid of Dawan Ferguson. She explained that he was intimidating and she didn’t want to put anyone at risk.

Donations can be made in Christian Ferguson’s memory by clicking here.