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'I hope you like prison': Friends react to Billy Ferguson's life sentence

Ferguson plead guilty to the murder of Gabe Cooley at a Calallen Walmart on August 23, 2020.
Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 19:49:15-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — “The maximum sentence he could receive was life and that’s what we received today on behalf of Gabe Cooley and we hope he will rest a little easier,” Angelica Hernandez, Nueces County first assistant district attorney, said.

Hernandez was emotional as she talked about the jury’s verdict of life in prison with a $10,000 fine for Billy Ferguson.

Ferguson plead guilty to the murder of Gabe Cooley at a Calallen Walmart on Aug. 23, 2020.

“In this particular case, I watched this family go through so much pain and so much anguish,” Hernandez said.

Cooley’s mom sat in the courtroom during every step of the trial, but could not bring herself to be there on the last day when jury would decide the fate of her son’s killer.

Ferguson, for most of the trial, hid his face. The only point in the trial where he showed any emotion was when his sister took the stand.

She described being close to her brother and said he was supportive, had a lot of friends and was even the class president his sophomore year in high school.

She said she was shocked at what he did.

Ferguson shed tears during her testimony.

Before jury deliberations, Hernandez said Ferguson described what happened leading up to the stabbing in a statement to police.

“He was filled with rage and he was filled with hostility,” Hernandez said. “He was filled with jealousy and resentment. And, as a result, he wanted to take away somebody else’s joy, somebody else’s life, somebody else that looked like they had a purpose of living and he went after Gabe Cooley."

After his sentencing, witness statements began.

“I hope you like prison,” Natalie Peters said as she looked Ferguson in the eye from the witness stand. “And I hope it’s the best life sentence.”

Peters, Cooley’s close friend, was there when Ferguson stabbed him 14 times. Cooley suffered five defensive wounds. Some of his last words, "I don't want to die, where's my mom?"

Cooley was described as happy, kind, positive and a friend to everyone he met.

“I feel relieved,” Peters told KRIS 6 News after the trial was over. “I just feel this weight that was holding me down for so long is finally gone. It’s very relieving knowing that Gabe got a life sentence to death and he gets a life sentence to prison. It feels rewarding.”