NEW PORT RICHEY — During an argument after church one Sunday in July 2008, authorities said, Orane Ferguson grabbed a knife and stabbed his wife more than 50 times. She died on the floor of the guest bathroom in their house in Land O'Lakes.
Lenora Michelle Ferguson's teen son, Gabriel Neal, tried to intervene. He was stabbed in the chest and collapsed in a neighbor's yard, but lived.
Orane Ferguson, a native of Jamaica who married his wife to stay in the United States, was arrested. His trial started Monday.
Whether he was the person wielding the knife that day is not in dispute. Whether he consciously intended to kill his wife is.
Prosecutors say it was first-degree murder. Ferguson is also charged with the first-degree attempted murder of his stepson.
Before he attacked them, Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis told jurors, Ferguson told Neal: "I'm going to kill you and your mom."
Ferguson's defense attorney says the stabbing that day was the act of a man who couldn't take any more abuse.
Willie Pura told jurors that Michelle Ferguson frequently threatened to kick her husband out and have him sent back to Jamaica if he upset her. She humiliated him in public yet demanded that he get her pregnant.
"She basically wanted to own this man as her husband and parade him around," Pura said.
So on the afternoon of July 20, 2008, when his wife stuck her finger in his face and fussed at him about something he was cooking, Pura said Ferguson snapped.
Neal, now 18, took the stand Monday. He said as his mother was being stabbed, he tried to break through the bathroom door. But each time he did, he said Ferguson turned the knife on him. As Neal was stumbling backward, he said, Ferguson "was grinning."
The trial continues today.
Reach Molly Moorhead at moorhead @sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.