ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A judge has sentenced a St. Louis County father to life without parole in the death of his disabled 9-year-old son.
Dawan Ferguson was convicted of earlier this year 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.
Ferguson was sentenced to life without parole on his first-degree murder charge. That will run concurrent with a previous sentence in an unrelated case.
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.
Dawan prepared a long impact statement ahead of Tuesday. He contends, to this day, he still doesn’t know what happened to Christian and there was no tangible evidence of his death without his body being found. He claimed there was a pattern of domestic violence in his home while he was married, claiming his wife Theda was violent and he was not. Dawan says Theda filed false statements to police about Christian after she lost custody of her children.
Amid the impact statement, Dawan says he did not commit the crime and is not trying to push for a lighter sentence. The prosecution responded and argued Dawan had not showed remorse over the loss or disappearance of his son and failed to take proper care of Christian.
During testimony this summer, the prosecution argued inconsistencies over Dawan’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 claimed 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.
Dawan’s attorneys have 180 days to file a motion if he plans to appeal. It’s unclear whether that might happen at this time.