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A man who was likely to face years in prison died by suicide on Tuesday in a North Dakota courthouse after being found guilty. He had been ordered to remain in custody until his sentencing, according to a witness who saw the events unfold.
Local newspaper The Forum reported that the only case being heard at the federal courthouse in Fargo at that time was the case of Jeffrey Sahl Ferris. A witness who asked to remain anonymous told the outlet that the 55-year old, who was accused of assaulting a child with a dangerous weapon, had asked to be let go until sentencing for at least 24-hours to deal with a child-care issue.
The judge denied his request this afternoon, according to the witness; it was then that the defendant then began “fidgeting” with his neck.
“His attorney asked him, ‘What the hell are you doing?'” the witness told The Forum. “And the guy turned around, and you could see the inside of his neck. He had slit his neck with some object. There was blood all over the walls in the courtroom, and the Marshals had wrestled him to the floor. You could hear him screaming, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
FBI spokesman Kevin Smith told the Forum. He “can’t remember the last time an event like this happened where somebody was able to smuggle in some contraband into a federal courtroom and die of a self-inflicted wound.”
According to an FBI affidavit, Ferris sped his Jeep at a group of boys who were hanging out with their bikes and four-wheelers near some abandoned buildings on April 24, 2020. As they fled, he allegedly exited his vehicle and brandished a gun while threatening one of the children.
Ferris contradicted this in his defense, saying that the boys had been vandalizing the building and were on the roof. He also denied that he had pointed his gun at anyone.
The law offices of Ferris’ attorney Ward K. Johnson told Oxygen.com that they have no comment when reached by phone on Tuesday.
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