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Billy Ferguson sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Gabe Cooley

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Calallen Walmart
Posted at 11:46 AM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 16:33:54-04

UPDATE (1:20 p.m. Friday):

After a nearly two hour jury deliberation on Friday, Billy Ferguson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Gabe Cooley.

The jury handed down the sentence just after 1 p.m. Friday afternoon, and includes a $10,000 fine.

More information to come as it is made available.

UPDATE (12 p.m. Friday):

On Friday, additional witnesses took the stand including Billy Ferguson's father Billy Ferguson Jr., and his sister Cassidy.

His father said he saw no signs leading up to the day of the stabbing.

He added when he saw his son after the incident in handcuffs, that Billy III didn't look like himself.

UPDATE (4:40 p.m. Thursday):

Psychologist Troy Martinez testified late this afternoon in the Billy Ferguson murder trial.

During his evaluation, Martinez said in the weeks leading up to Ferguson’s arrest, he was exhibiting irrational and delusional paranoia.

Both Martinez and Lusins diagnosed Ferguson with brief psychotic disorder.

The diagnosis stemmed from symptoms lasting a minimum of one day and maximum of 30 days.

Martinez said in his interviews, Ferguson exhibited no psychotic symptoms.

UPDATE (4 p.m. Thursday):

As more evidence was presented in the case, the jury also heard witness testimony on Thursday afternoon.

The court was presented with the 911 call made by Kathleen Cooley, the sister to Gabe Cooley.

In the call, Kathleen told dispatchers her brother had blood all over his chest, but she did not know where he was.

When she found him, Kathleen told dispatchers Gabe was on the floor, and she was telling another person to "push really hard on the injuries."

Kathleen then asked dispatchers to hurry to the scene because there was no one there.

Body cam footage from a Corpus Christi police officer was then shown to the court, showing Ferguson in custody.

He was seen whistling, as he asked officers to remove his handcuffs.

Prosecutors rested their case before presenting witness testimony.

Jurors heard from Dr. John Lusins, the second psychiatrist tasked with evaluating Ferguson.

He said Ferguson refused to be interviewed, and after a five minute conversation, Lusins was unable to properly evaluate him.

First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez said Ferguson was originally interviewed three separate times by a different psychologist, who found he understood the wrongfulness of his actions and could have stopped himself.

Although Lusins agreed with these statements, he said he can’t say if mental illness did or did not play a role in Ferguson’s actions.

UPDATE (12:35 p.m. Thursday):

Testimony continued on Thursday in the punishment phase of the Billy Ferguson trial.

Ferguson plead guilty to murder on Wednesday, while the jury found him not guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the 2020 killing of Calallen teen Gabe Cooley

Thursday, more than a dozen family and friends were in the courtroom as crime scene technicians reviewed the evidence entered into the trial.

Among them included a bloodied Calallen shirt with the number twelve filled with fabric tears.

The jury also saw a photograph of Cooley, after District Court Judge Nanette Hasette denied the objections from defense council to withhold the image.

Testimony is expected to continue through Thursday.

CORRECTION (9:48 a.m. Thursday):

A reporter error stated that a jury found Billy Ferguson guilty of murdering Gabe Cooley. This is incorrect. Ferguson pled guilty to murdering Cooley. A jury found him not guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The punishment phase for the murder charge is scheduled for 10 a.m.

CLARIFICATION (5:15 p.m. Wednesday):

Billy Ferguson originally was charged with murder, aggravated assault and aggravated-assault-with-a-deadly-weapon charges, but according to Nueces County First Asst. DA Angelica Hernandez, the latter two charges were later combined into just one charge — aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because Cooley's friend Natalie Peters was standing next to Cooley when he was stabbed.

Billy Ferguson was found not guilty on that charge.


A jury found Billy Ferguson guilty of murdering 17-year-old Gabe Cooley in the Calallen-area Walmart in August 2020.

The jury came back in less than two hours, at about 11:56 a.m.

Lawyers from both sides presented closing arguments this morning in Judge Nanette Hasette's 28th District Court, and deliberations started around 10:30 a.m.

The 22-year-old faced jail time on murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated-assault-with-a-deadly-weapon charges. He was found not guilty of the two lesser charges.

Ferguson's lawyers had argued that the aggravated assault charge should be dropped because they said there was no evidence to support that the alleged victim — Natalie Peters, who was with Cooley at the time of the stabbing — was targeted or harmed.

Ferguson admitted to Corpus Christi Police Department investigators that he stabbed Gabe Cooley 14 times with an 8-inch knife he grabbed off the Walmart shelf.

Evidence presented during the two-day trial alleges Cooley was stabbed with so much force that his sternum bone and two ribs were pierced. The medical examiner testified that Cooley died from his injuries within five seconds.

Surveillance video from inside the store was also presented, and reportedly shows Gabe Cooley being stabbed by Ferguson, who chased him down and eventually killed him.

In the video, Ferguson reportedly is seen trying to get rid of the knife after the stabbing.

Sr. Digital Content Producer Ana Tamez and Digital Content Producer Frank Cardenas contributed to this story.