Slice of Life

Patric Ferguson, Part 2: The Next 24

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6]

It’s funny when you’re close enough to a story that you don’t have to go fishing for updates; they come to you. I woke up to a text message from Akosua, with a screenshot from Roger’s fb page. He made out on bail and is looking for a lawyer. I’m glad he was able to get out for the time, COVID being what it is and all. The pandemic is also definitely interfering with the timeliness of the justice system, I’m sure.

On their website, WREG News Channel 3 reports the Assistant District Attorney Paul Hagerman saying, “This is step one in what’s probably going to be a long process.” Even though the murder seems fairly cut and dry, with as much obvious evidence that there is, I doubt this case will be concluded within the week. Best believe I’ll be following this until it’s finally over.

For some reason, I’m personally invested in this. I’ve never known someone by name – whom I’ve hugged, shared class notes with, threw parties, babbled with in poor Spanish, and fell asleep beside in an 8am class – to have done something so publicly violent.

Patric always kept me laughing and damn near crying. The group of gentlemen he rolled with on campus were all of the highest quality in character and they were a comfort to have around. Many crossed Alpha our Junior and Senior years, many involved in sports, all of them part of multiple campus organizations. I wasn’t part of their inner-circle, but I can genuinely say having their crew on campus made it a better place and made me more comfortable in general.

I still stand on the platform that the Patric I knew was a lovely young man. What I want to get to the bottom of is what made him snap? Life can take a wholesome person and twist them dark, sure. But I saw Patric November 2019 at Homecoming. He was happy, milling with the guys who showed up from his old crew, standing outside the BCLC, while the Lynx got absolutely hammered by the visiting team, and the cheerleaders… tried. We laughed a bit, hugged, I thanked him for being part of the Memphis police department and “being part of the good fight” and representing the neighborhood. There’s absolutely nothing in our exchange that gave me pause.

So it’s hard to believe that all this violence was over a woman. I just can’t imagine that the motive is as simple as that and the solution, in the mind of a man I once knew, was as violent and final as it was. Now, I’ve been in love and I’ve lost that love (quite grossly, I might add), but the only person I thought to harm was myself. I can’t wrap my mind around the motive, though if I’m being absolutely honest, my gut told me a woman was at the root of it. I even told Akosua so when she linked me an update this morning.

Then I thought to message Patric’s brother. Perhaps a fb message after seven years of silence isn’t the best? It’s always hard to gauge social interactions after a long time or when an intense situation happens. At worst, I figure, he can tell me to fuck off. At best, he’ll say “thanks” or leave me on read. Either way, my positive thoughts are out there in the universe for the Ferguson family. It’s all I can do, anyways. I just know if I lost my brother, I’d lose myself for an indeterminable amount of time. I’d absolutely tank. Between you and me, I can’t conceive light at the end of that hypothetical tunnel. I can’t imagine what it must be like for Fletcher.

Akosua is a social worker that also deals with counseling and the like. Having her as a soundboard for this instance has been helpful, and we’re both on the side of questioning Patric’s mental health. There’s just got to be more to it. She was much closer to Patric than I was; she was always in their dorm first year. She’s not fully convinced the motive is as simple as what they’re letting the public know either.

With her doubts fueling my own, I took to another mutual friend of ours. Cameron is a brilliant lawyer, so I asked about the intake process to better understand the psychological evaluation that goes with new cases. If memory serves, she’s not a criminal lawyer, so she may come back with bupkis, so I’ve googled.

First I had to find the correct terminology, so that was fun and now my internet history is “interesting.” But anyways, the term is “criminal responsibility.” The two heartier sources I found don’t settle my anxieties too much, honestly.

Unfortunately, many experts rely exclusively upon an unstructured clinical opinion when assessing a defendant, which is essentially a “gut feeling.” It is very subjective and not advised by today’s standards. Research has shown that the likelihood of being correct is no better than chance. Although an unstructured clinical opinion is considered the worst method in terms of reliability and validity, it is the most commonly used method for assessing areas such as risk of violent recidivism.”

– Dr. Ray Kim on

Even if Patric took (or was advised to take) an insanity plea, it’s highly doubtful it’ll be taken seriously in court.

The insanity defense is one of the most controversial issues in criminal law. One reason for this are the many misconceptions surrounding this plea. For example, although the public believes (probably as a result of the publicity given to such cases) that the insanity plea is very often entered, such cases are rare: often fewer than 1 in every 1,000 criminal cases. The success rate of the defense varies from country to country and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with 25–50 percent as a broad average. 

D. Louw in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

What this leaves me to believe is that a moment of passion, an overwhelming wave of emotion, blacking out due to an intense situation, or anything similar is not, in fact, a moment of insanity. Perhaps philosophically this can be disputed, but legally it sounds pretty set.

It also not fills my stomach with ice. I’m forced to recognize the internet searches, the chains and cinder blocks… the decision to murder Robert Howard was premeditated and planned. It clearly wasn’t carried out to plan, but it was planned, nonetheless.

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