A simple error almost shaved off 12 years from a Vancouver man’s 2004 murder sentence, until the error was caught before the sentencing document was filed.
Jason S. Ferguson, 44, has been serving a 40-year prison sentence for convictions of murder and assault in a stabbing outside a Hazel Dell nightclub.
A state Supreme Court decision in February 2021 to decriminalize simple drug possession triggered Ferguson’s resentencing Wednesday. With the State v. Blake ruling, Ferguson’s two prior drug convictions were vacated, so they no longer counted toward his criminal history in the murder case.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino asked Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson to resentence Ferguson to the high end of his new sentencing range — which should have been 36 years and four months — in accordance with his original sentence.
However, an error in adding together the consecutive sentences for each conviction meant Gasperino mistakenly requested a sentence of 28 years, or 100 months less than the high end of the range.
Gregerson said during the hearing he would follow the precedent of a high-end sentence and ordered Gasperino’s recommendation.
But while filling out the paperwork, the court clerk discovered the 336-month sentence was not, in fact, the high end of the range. That, coupled with a problem getting Ferguson’s fingerprints and signature on the paperwork, Gregerson continued the hearing to Feb. 10, Gasperino said.
At that time, the judge will indicate what the sentence should be and why, Gasperino said. Ferguson has already served 19 years in prison.
A jury convicted Ferguson of second-degree murder in the February 2004 stabbing death of Lavell Lindsey. The jury rejected Ferguson’s claim of self-defense when he stabbed Lindsey numerous times, including in the head and back, during a fight involving multiple people. The fight reportedly began when one of Ferguson’s friends told him to stop his truck so he could confront people he recognized to have bullied him in middle school, according to Columbian archives.
Ferguson was also convicted of first-degree assault for wounding one of Lindsey’s friends, Greg Dalton.
Dalton said Wednesday he still has a scar from Ferguson stabbing him. Lindsey’s younger brother told Gregerson of the impact Ferguson’s actions had on his family. Both asked Gregerson to impose the maximum possible sentence.
Ferguson apologized Wednesday to Dalton and Lindsey’s family, and he told Gregerson of the rehabilitation resources he’s utilized while in prison.