CLAYTON, Mo. – A jury has convicted a St. Louis County father in the death of his disabled 9-year-old son.
Dawan Ferguson was found guilty of first-degree murder after his son, Christian, disappeared in June 2003. Christian had a rare metabolic condition, was disabled, and required around-the-clock care.
On the morning of June 11, 2003, Dawan Ferguson called 911 from a pay phone outside a gas station at Page and Skinker to report his SUV had been carjacked with Christian still inside the vehicle. Dawan said he was bringing Christian to St. Louis Children’s Hospital at the time and stopped to call the hospital in advance of their arrival. Police found the SUV hours later but not Christian. Court documents said Christian would have died within 48 hours without his medications.
Christian was never found. The boy was eventually presumed dead. He was 9.
Christian was born with a genetic disorder of one’s metabolism called citrullinemia, which means the body produces more ammonia in the blood. As a result, the boy needed to be on medications and could only ingest a minuscule amount of protein in his daily diet.
During the early stages of closing arguments, the prosecution argued inconsistencies over the defense’s side of the story on the 911 call. The prosecution claims there was a period of several hours that did not match the timeline of when police were informed Christian went missing and the defense’s side of the story was “bogus.”
Prosecutor John Schlesinger argued that Dawan made deliberate decisions over caring for Christian prior to his death, such as not giving him medicine or feeding him properly. The defense contends Dawan didn’t take care of Christian because he was an inconvenience and “he didn’t want to deal with it.”
The defense argued there are several rumors, theories and innuendos as to what happened. There were arguments made against the prosecution’s point of deliberation in caring for Christian, and the defense faults a home health nurse for not reporting Christian’s worsening health to police or DFS.
Defense attorney Jemia Steele argues there was no evidence that demonstrated a motive in Christian’s death. She also claims there was no circumstantial evidence of foul play in a Malibu car linked to the investigation. That car belonged to Lakeisha Mayes, Dawan’s girlfriend at the time.
Steele argued the prosecution’s story about the stolen car is implied and that defense witnesses would have no reason to help Dawan. She also claimed, based on statements made from Christian’s sister, that the story on Chrisitan’s disappearance was twisted.
Before closing arguments wrapped up, Schlessinger spoke a second time and claimed that Dawan Ferguson never attended any organized searches or prayer vigils for Christian. He claims Dawan brought Christian “to the brink of death” and cited statements from Dawan, medical records and documents of missed appointments as evidence of deliberate acts from January 2001 to June 2003 before Christian’s death.
Lin Ferguson, Christian Ferguson’s sister, testified in court Wednesday morning that she was abused by their father, Dawan Ferguson. As a result, she was hesitant to report anything about Christian’s disappearance to authorities or DFS.
At the start of her testimony, Lin identified Dawan Ferguson as a “sperm donor” and not her father.
Lin, who was 8 years old at the time of Christian’s disappearance, said she shared a bedroom with Christian while other siblings had their own rooms in the house.
According to Lin, Christian was very thin after a January 2001 trip to the hospital. She said you could see Christian’s pelvic bones and the notches in his spine. She remembered being able to play with her brother before that 2001 hospital visit and said he could get around normally too.
Lin also described Dawan’s abuse and mistreatment of Christian over the years. She told the court she never witnessed Dawan feed or give medicine to Christian. She said Christian was tethered to his bed with his comforter on multiple occasions. She remembered one instance when the family went to a hotel that night and left Christian restrained on his bed with the lights turned off at the residence. She could not recall any adults ever being at the home when that happened.
On June 10, 2003, the day before Christian’s disappearance, Lin said Christian was moaning and groaning the entire day and seemed to be in immense pain. Her brother’s discomfort continued into the night. She claimed Dawan returned to the bedroom and picked Christian up in a comforter. Dawan carried Christian into his car and left with the boy.
Santana Contreras, one witness speaking on behalf of the prosecution, took the stand Thursday morning. She was noticeably nervous upon entering the courtroom. Her testimony would explain why.
Contreras knew Dawan and Monica Ferguson, his ex-wife, in 2004. Monica was a work acquaintance. According to Contreras, Monica approached her about entering into a “throuple” (polyamorous relationship) with the Fergusons.
Contreras only met with Dawan and Monica outside of work on three occasions – once at their house and twice at her residence. During one of these get-togethers, Contreras discerned that Dawan was the father of Christian Ferguson.
She testified that Monica had told her at one point that taking care of Christian should have been Dawan’s responsibility.
Contreras told the court Dawan said his stepfather was a powerful man and that Christian was dead before the call was made from the pay phone on June 11, 2003. She said Dawan indicated his son’s body had been buried in the foundation of a home tied to Dawan’s stepfather, presumably at a recent construction site. He said nothing else about a more specific location.
Monica Ferguson, Sonya Burden, Lin Finnegan, and Deshonda Linwood were among those who also testified in court throughout the week.
Family speaks after verdict
Family members and St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell spoke out following Friday’s verdict. You can watch the full press conference below: