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Ferguson ruled competent to stand trial for alleged murder of Gabe Cooley

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Posted at 4:25 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 00:03:53-04

Billy Ferguson — the man accused of killing Gabe Cooley at the Calallen Walmart in 2020 — was ruled competent to stand trial following a hearing Wednesday.

28th District Court Judge Nanette Hasette ruled on the matter two days after KRIS 6 News reported jailhouse phone recordings of Ferguson's conversations with family members would be used in Wednesday's hearing.

Those recordings revealed that Ferguson was trying to stall his trial for allegedly murdering the Calallen High School football and soccer player, which factored into Judge Hasette declaring him competent.

“Very, very good," is how Gabe's sister Kathleen Cooley said she felt after Wednesday's hearing. "Relieved — excited.”

Also at the hearing, prosecutors played a recording of Ferguson at the police station hours after the Aug. 23, 2020 , allegedly confessing to killing Gabe Cooley

In the recording, Ferguson said he was "mad at the world" when he arrived at the Walmart, grabbed a large knife from the kitchen section of the store, and randomly chose Cooley as his victim before allegedly stabbing him to death.

"It was hard to hear," Kathleen said. "I kind of had an idea of what was going to be said, so the anticipation wasn’t there."

Hasette also set Ferguson's murder trial to start on Sept. 12.

Ferguson's attorney, Scott Ellison, said he would consult with doctors before deciding whether he'll enter a guilty plea for Ferguson, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

The harshest punishment Ferguson can receive is life in prison with the possibility of parole.

That's disappointing to Gabe's mother after hearing Ferguson's alleged acceptance to life behind bars on those jailhouse phone recordings.

“He’s going to live life in jail," Amy Cooley said. "He’s already got a plan for it. He’s actually kind of excited about it. And he knows that in 30 years that he’ll be eligible for parole."

This is a developing story. For the latest local news updates click here, or download the KRIS 6 News App.