He loses his case spectacularly
Colin Ferguson, the LIRR mass shooter, was a deranged man who ended the lives of 6 people. On December 7, 1993 he opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train as it was coming in to the Merillon Avenue stop in Garden City Park on its way east from Manhattan.
As the train approached the station, Ferguson stood up, pulled his pistol and began firing at random. He walked toward the front of the train, slowly firing at each person he approached. He was methodical and trancelike in his murderous spree, stating “I’m going to get you,” over and over as he walked down the aisle. He was able to reload twice while continuing to move through the train. After his second magazine emptied, someone shouted, “grab him!”. LIRR passengers Michael O’Connor, Kevin Blum, and Mark McEntee tackled Ferguson and held him down before he could reload. An off-duty police officer, Andrew Roderick, came into the car with handcuffs and arrested Ferguson. When the shooting was over there were 6 dead and 19 injured. He was arrested and arraigned in Nassau County.
Ferguson’s initial defense attorney was Anthony Falanga. After speaking with Ferguson, he determined that he would attempt an insanity defense. Ferguson didn’t think he was insane so he requested that Falanga be replaced with Attorney Colin Moore, who offered to work pro-bono. After meeting with Ferguson, Moore withdrew his offer of representation. Falanga was back on the case. A psychological evaluation was ordered, and the gunman was, somewhat surprisingly, found competent to stand trial.
Ferguson was subsequently indicted in Nassau County on 93 charges. Soon thereafter, William Kunstler and Ron Kuby made an offer to represent Ferguson. The offer was accepted. The well-known attorneys attempted a “black rage” defense, arguing in pretrial motions that living in a white supremist society had caused Ferguson’s murderous rampage. As the case proceeded through the courts system things got weird. There was some indication that racism played a role in the shootings but Ferguson’s ramblings were too incoherent to place a motive on the act. Ferguson was uncooperative in his own defense. When Kunstler and Kuby again tried to introduce an insanity defense, Ferguson fired them and proposed to defend himself.
The trial was nothing short of a circus. Although overshadowed by the OJ Simpson trial, the televised proceeding gained significant local attention. Ferguson argued that there was a vast conspiracy against him, and that he wasn’t the shooter. He also stated that he had fallen asleep on the train and some mystery man named Mr. Su stole his gun and committed the mass murder. He found a witness that testified that he observed an Asian man press a microchip into Ferguson’s head before the shooting. Whatever happened after that chip was inserted was not his fault. Ferguson also argued that he had been charged with 93 counts because it was the year 1993. If he was charged in 1925, he only would have been charged with 25 counts. His cross examinations of witnesses with nothing short of laughable, he simply asked the witness to repeat himself several times and called it a day. Throughout the trial he strangely referred to himself in the third person.
On February 17th, 1995, Ferguson was, not surprisingly, convicted. His earliest possible parole date in August 6, 2309. He would be 351 years old. The saying, “A man who defends himself has a fool for a client” was never more true than in this case.