exposing the dark side of adoption
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Jury selection begins in Ferguson case


By Valerie Lough

SPRINGFIELD — Jury selection began Tuesday, Nov. 3, in the trial of a local woman accused of abusing her five adopted children.

Vonda Ferguson, 46, is charged with 33 counts of felonious assault, child endangering, permitting child abuse and rape.

Clark County Common Pleas Judge Richard O’Neill told potential jurors Tuesday that they would be interviewed one at a time during the selection process.

“We’ll take up two issues: one is the pretrial publicity and any prior knowledge you have of this case, the other is the time the trial is anticipated to last,” said O’Neill.

The trial could last for up to three weeks, he said.

Ferguson is accused of using extreme forms of punishment on her five adopted children — hitting them with hammers and belts until they bled, forcing them to eat excrement and burning them with irons — between 2000 and 2004.

Her husband, James Ferguson, was convicted last year on similar charges and was sentenced to 65 years in prison.

Their case goes as far back as 2000, when investigators alleged that the Fergusons started abusing five of their adopted children, who are now age 14 through 19.

The children were taken out of the home in 2004 and the couple gave up custody in 2005.

The Fergusons had faced the same charges in Union County, but those charges were dismissed in 2007 after prosecutors there conceded that many of the incidents allegedly took place in Clark County.

Union County prosecutors are acting as special prosecutors in the case while Clark County officials provide only logistical support.

Jury selection is expected to continue Wednesday morning in O’Neill’s court at 9 a.m.

2009 Nov 3