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'This is not normal': Testimony during murder trial for father accused of killing son with special needs continues

A pharmacy director, police officers and family court workers are among the witnesses called during the second day of trial for Dawan Ferguson.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Christian Ferguson, 9, was supposed to get life-saving prescriptions every 30 days, but there were times when they wouldn’t be picked up for 42 and even 74 days at a time, according to a pharmacy director who testified during a murder trial for the child’s father.

“This is not normal,” said Melissa Heigham, director of pharmacy services for Children’s Hospital as she reviewed how long prescriptions would sit on shelves without being picked up.

Dawan Ferguson has been charged with first-degree murder. He told police his son, who has special needs, was in the back of his SUV when it was carjacked in June 2003 in St. Louis.

Police found the vehicle, but Christian hasn't been seen since.

Christian Ferguson had a genetic disorder that prevented his body from properly processing protein, and without his medications, experts testified that he would slowly deteriorate as ammonia levels rose in his body, sending him into a coma, and eventually killing him.

The defense ended questioning of every witness noting how no one reported concerns about Christian’s well-being to the state, and, that he was not hospitalized. Witnesses talked about Christian seeming lethargic and losing weight loss during his last doctor’s visit and visitation with his mother about three months before his disappearance.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell charged Dawan Ferguson in 2019, saying prosecutors have new evidence, including witnesses who felt coerced not to testify and who now say they are willing to speak.

A retired worker from Heritage House, where Dawan and his ex-wife Theda Person, would meet so Theda Person could see her children during court-ordered visits, said Dawan Ferguson seemed to be “agitated” and increasingly upset with how difficult caring for Christian was becoming for him.

Retired Family Court Domestic Relations specialist Mary Ellen Pennick testified about a hearing that happened two days before Christian went missing in which Theda Person wanted the judge to force her ex-husband to restore her court-ordered visitation rights.

Pennick said Dawan Ferguson was “late for visits multiple times” and, in the months leading up to his disappearance, had missed visits altogether.

During the hearing, Pennick said the judge told Dawan Ferguson’s attorney to ask Dawan Ferguson how much time he would like to spend in jail if he continues to disobey court-ordered parenting time for the child’s mother.

"I've been doing this a long time,” Pennick said. “I've seen a lot of interactions with attorneys and their clients. Mr. Ferguson was upset and agitated at his lawyer telling him he must comply."

Dawan Ferguson’s defense attorney, Jemia Steele, noted how Pennick never told the FBI about her impression that Dawan Ferguson was irritated.

Prosecutors called multiple former St. Louis police officers, who had handled various parts of the investigation to the stand during the afternoon. Those who went inside the Ferguson home said Christian's bedroom had a strong smell of urine. 

One of the state's key witnesses was a woman named Lakiesha Mays, who said she owned the Malibu Dawan Ferguson used the day his son went missing. Prosecutors alleged the Malibu could be seen in photographs parked near the pay phone Dawan Ferguson used to call police following the alleged carjacking. 

The state also called several residents who lived on Ronbar Drive in Ferguson where Dawan Ferguson's SUV was found, who said they saw the vehicle parked on their street hours before Dawan Ferguson called police to report the carjacking.

Defense attorneys tried to offer five orders of proof mostly related to Theda Person after the jury was dismissed for the day. Orders of proof are attempts to persuade a judge not to exclude evidence. 

The defense wanted the judge to allow them to show the jury evidence that Theda Person had called the state hotline to report child abuse so many times that the family court judge ordered her to stop. Another topic defense attorneys wanted the jury to know was how Theda Person held a campaign event for Prosecutor Wesley Bell and lobbied him to charge her ex-husband for their son's murder.

The judge denied all of the defense's orders of proof.

5 On Your Side will live stream Dawan Ferguson's trial this week on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

Dawan Ferguson was also charged with two counts of rape, two counts of statutory sodomy and second-degree child molestation after police say between May 2008 and 2010, he sexually assaulted a child younger than 14, and that victim became pregnant and had a child. Police say he continued to assault the victim between May 2010 and 2013 when the victim was younger than 17 years old, according to court documents.

Police said he sexually abused another victim, who was younger than 17, between September 2000 and 2003, according to court documents.

His trial date for those charges has been set for Aug. 1.

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