Georgia inmate sentenced to life for latest murder

Despite three murders, he has the possibility for eventual parole
Daniel Luke Ferguson has pleaded guilty to killing fellow inmate Eddie Gosier, the third Black man he has murdered. Two of the murders and another violent assault all took place in supposedly high-security Georgia prisons. (Columbia County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Daniel Luke Ferguson has pleaded guilty to killing fellow inmate Eddie Gosier, the third Black man he has murdered. Two of the murders and another violent assault all took place in supposedly high-security Georgia prisons. (Columbia County Sheriff's Office)

A Georgia inmate notorious for violence within the prison system has been sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for his latest murder.

Daniel Luke Ferguson, 32, was sentenced Monday in a Columbia County court after pleading guilty to the murder of Eddie Gosier in May 2020 at Augusta State Medical Prison. The 39-year-old, physically handicapped victim was strangled with a bedsheet just hours after officers placed Ferguson in his cell.

Ferguson was the subject of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story last month that detailed how he had killed or tried to kill at least three of his fellow inmates since entering the Georgia Department of Corrections in 2008 to serve a life sentence for the murder of a 94-year-old neighbor in Walton County.

Gosier’s sister, Lena Thomas, said she hopes the GDC now realizes that Ferguson, currently in solitary confinement in the Special Management Unit in Butts County, is too dangerous to be returned to the general prison population.

“Maximum solitary confinement, that’s where he needs to be,” she said, reacting to his plea and sentence. “I don’t know what else to say. He just needs to be confined to a cell all by himself. Given the opportunity (to kill), he’ll do it again.”

Ferguson’s life sentence for killing Gosier — like the one he received for the killing of his neighbor — leaves open the possibility of parole after 30 years, but prosecutor Natalie Paine told the AJC she believes it’s “exceptionally unlikely” Ferguson can now receive such consideration.

“Given his history, it’s hard to imagine him getting (parole) even when he’s eligible without a medical reprieve,” she said.

Even with the possibility of parole, Paine said the new life sentence is meaningful because it means a new 30 years of definite incarceration starting this month.

Ferguson was 18 when he was sentenced to life in prison for robbing and killing Tom Daniel, his elderly neighbor in a rural area east of Monroe. Ferguson shot Daniel after the old man woke up during the robbery, which netted $170.

Three years into his prison sentence, Ferguson used a razor blade tied to a toothbrush handle to slash the throat of Travis Boyd hours after being placed in a cell with him at Georgia State Prison. On Christmas night of the following year, he fatally strangled Damion MacClain, an inmate at Hays State Prison.

MacClain’s death resulted in Ferguson pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and receiving another 20 years of prison time, to be served consecutively with his life sentence. His attack on Boyd didn’t lead to criminal charges even though Boyd survived only after he was air-lifted to a Savannah hospital, according to the incident report.

In 2011, Travis Boyd, left, survived having his throat slashed by Daniel Ferguson at Georgia State Prison. Less than two years later, Ferguson strangled Damion MacClain, middle, at Hays State Prison. On Jan. 9, Ferguson pleaded guilty to the murder of Eddie Gosier, right, who was strangled in May 2020, on the same day that he became cellmates with Ferguson. (Contributed)

Credit: Contributed

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Credit: Contributed

Ferguson initially refused to accept a plea in Gosier’s death but reconsidered after Paine, Columbia County’s chief assistant district attorney, filed a notice to treat him as a repeat offender. The notice would have required Ferguson to receive a sentence of life without parole if his case went to trial and he was convicted by a jury.

Ferguson told investigators that officers “forced” him into the cell with Gosier, a sex offender, even after he told them he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions there. Gosier, serving a 20-year-sentence for sexually assaulting a teenage boy, was found dead the next day.

Ferguson claimed Gosier made a sexual advance toward him, causing him to have “flashbacks” to being molested as a child and respond violently.

Just seven months before the murder, officers at the medical prison had confronted Ferguson in an unauthorized area, using a Taser when he refused to leave and hitting him with pepper spray when he refused to put his handcuffs on properly.

At Monday’s hearing in Judge J. Wade Padgett’s court, Ferguson admitted to killing Gosier but declined to say anything more when Padgett asked him if he wanted to make a statement.

Ferguson had been expected to plead guilty at a hearing on Dec. 20, but Padgett abruptly halted the proceeding without resolution when Ferguson said he was unhappy with his attorney, Terrence Theus of the Columbia County public defender’s office, for failing to consult an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder.

At Monday’s hearing, Ferguson answered “yes, sir” when Padgett asked again whether Theus had provided adequate legal representation.