Star Witness a Dud in Alleged St. Louis Child-Killer Trial

It's unclear exactly what happened in final hours of testimony, but it likely wasn't good for Dawan Ferguson

click to enlarge Prosecutor John Schlesinger cross examines Dion Dupree, a witness for the defense. - St. Louis County Circuit Attorney's Office Live Stream
St. Louis County Circuit Attorney's Office Live Stream
Prosecutor John Schlesinger cross examines Dion Dupree, a witness for the defense.

Things went from bad to worse today in court for 49-year-old Dawan Fergsuon, the St. Louis man accused of killing his nine-year-old son in 2003 then concocting an elaborate cover story claiming that his son was kidnapped.

For the past three days, the prosecution has called witness after witness to contradict Fergsuson's version of what happened on the morning of June 11, 2003. For the past 19 years, he has maintained that he was driving his severely disabled son, Christian, to the hospital when he stopped to use a payphone at the corner of Page and Skinker to call ahead to the hospital and let them know they were coming. As he made the call, he claimed, his red SUV with Christian inside was stolen.
Over the past three and a half days of trial, the prosecution has seriously undermined Ferguson's narrative, calling multiple witnesses who have testified that Ferguson's red SUV was nowhere near Page and Skinker at the time he says it was stolen. A family friend also testified that Ferguson borrowed her gold Chevrolet Malibu that morning without her permission. Prosecutors allege Ferguson drove this Malibu to Page and Skinker that morning after ditching his SUV on a residential street in the city of Ferguson.

The prosecution called their final witnesses this morning, the most notable being Santana Contreras, a woman who says she heard Ferguson confess to killing Christian in 2004. Contreras said that she worked at a clothing store with Monica Mitchell, who at the time was married to Ferguson. (Ferguson had long been separated from Christian's mother, Theda Person, at this point.)

Contreras testified that Ferguson and Mitchell, who had an open marriage, tried to recruit her into a menage-a-trois. She declined, but Ferguson sent her unsolicited lingerie and sex toys.
Further, on one occasion when Mitchell came over to Contreras's house to pick up some clothes, Ferguson was with her. The conversation turned to Christian, and Contreras testified that Ferguson said, "The boy was deceased before the call [from the payphone] was made." Ferguson added that Christian had been buried in the foundation of a house being constructed.

Contreras said she was so terrified at having heard Ferguson confess to a "heinous act," that she quit her job at the clothing store and moved to Wichita. Despite moving to Kansas, she said Ferguson continued to send her unsolicited lingerie and cards.

With that, the prosecution rested, and in the afternoon, Ferguson's attorney Jemia Steele called witnesses for the defense.

Dion Dupree, who told the court he was self-employed, could have potentially been the defense's star witness, but his testimony quickly derailed.

Dupree was 10 years old in 2003, and that summer attended a day camp near Skinker and Page, the intersection that Ferguson says his SUV was stolen from with his son in the back.
Dupree stated that on the morning of June 11, 2003, he saw a maroon SUV "taking off" from the intersection around 6 a.m., the time when Ferguson says his SUV was stolen. Dupree testified that he later saw the same SUV on the television news coverage of what was at the time believed to be Christian Ferguson's abduction.

Prosecutor John Schlesinger then cross examined Dupree, highlighting previous statements of his about that morning when he did not mention any maroon SUV.

Then, proceedings took an unusual turn.

"Do you have a brother named Ja'Vonn Dupree?" Schlesinger asked.

Ferguson’s public defender Steele objected to the question.

Ja'Vonn Dupree was found guilty of quadruple murder in St. Louis County last year. Steele was his attorney.

Both Schlesinger and Steele approached the judge's bench with their co-counsels. The jury was then dismissed, and the counsels continued to meet with the judge, now in his chambers.

When they returned, Steele was visibly upset, using tissue to dry her eyes.

There was no indication of what had transpired. The witness Dupree was not called back to give any additional testimony.

The final witness of the day was Ron Goldstein, a former chief criminal investigator for the county prosecutor's office, who appeared as part of the state's rebuttal evidence. Goldstein testified that he interviewed Dupree about the events of June 11, 2003. He said that at no time did Dupree mention a red SUV speeding away from Page and Skinker. In fact, Dupree had described the presence of a car at the intersection similar to the Chevrolet Malibu Ferguson is accused of using to facilitate his cover story.

Court watchers expect closing arguments from both sides tomorrow morning, after which the jury will go into deliberation.

About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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