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Fergus given 30 years, suspended after 13

Updated 12:04 pm, Friday, November 2, 2012
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A New Milford man who pled guilty to substitution charges in the November 2009 knife attack on his then wife told the judge Tuesday during sentencing that he's fine now.

Neil Fergus, 44, said the attack on his wife and previous terrorization of her and their children was the result of a testosterone medication he was on at the time.

"The medication put me in a state where I had no control," Mr. Fergus said. "The testosterone medication put me in a manic rage. I don't remember the incident. When I was told about it -- it breaks my heart. I can't believe it was me."

Mr. Fergus was sentenced to 30 years in prison, to be suspended after 13 years, followed by five years of probation.

The charges, agreed to in Mr. Fergus' plea deal, are first-degree burglary with a deadly weapon, first-degree assault causing serious physical injury and second-degree assault on a person older than 60.

A protective order covering the next 40 years was put in place for Mr. Fergus' ex-wife, Catherine Fergus, and her mother, Ann Wranovix.

Protective orders were also put in place for Mr. Fergus' two sons, now aged 9 and 12, until the boys reach maturity at age 18. At that time, the protective order could be revisited with their input. The protective order also includes the Fergus' daughter, now aged 4.

"It doesn't give me great pleasure to say this," Judge James Ginocchio said handing down Mr. Fergus' sentence in Superior Court in Litchfield. "A tragic situation occurred, whether it was a result of your mixing medication. I saw your wife trembling as she made her statement. ... I have my concerns."

Catherine Fergus recounted living in a bad marriage, with her husband threatening and striking her in front of their children.

In February 2009, she filed for divorce. Neil Fergus had been "enraged" with stipulations suggested in the divorce proceedings, she said.

Catherine Fergus filed a violation of protective order against him on Nov. 14, 2009, two days after she'd called police about his harassing phone calls. That same day, Mr. Fergus came to the house and attacked her and her mother.

"The defendant parked at the top of the driveway and with an angry motion he came toward my car," Catherine Fergus recounted. "As he pulled the car door open, I tried to pull away. The boys were in the back seat yelling `No, no.' He (Mr. Fergus) stabbed me twice and pulled me from the car and stabbed me again.

"I slipped on the wet grass and lost my shoe," Catherine Fergus said, her voice trembling. "I got up and ran to the house screaming for my mother to open the door. I got inside and the defendant was beating on the door, yelling `I'm going to kill you Kate. You're going to die.' Our 18-month-old daughter ran around agitated and crying."

After breaking down the door, Mr. Fergus punched his wife in the eye, then knocked down Ms. Wranovix, 71, also striking her. He then ran into the kitchen and grabbed a large knife which he subsequently dropped without inflicting further injuries, Catherine Fergus said.

The two boys are now struggling with anxiety and severe emotional problems as a result of the trauma of witnessing the attack, Catherine Fergus said. She is unable to hold a job as she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, she said.

"The facts are gut-wrenching," said Mr. Fergus' attorney Martin Minnella. "We can only assume one thing: this was an insane act. Rather than put this man and his wife and children through a trial where they'd have to relive the horror, we've fashioned this plea bargain that is fair to all."

Mr. Fergus has been incarcerated since November 2009.

Mr. Minnella said Mr. Fergus has been examined by psychiatrists. He has been and will continue receiving psychiatric treatment throughout his prison sentence and must continue psychiatric treatment while on probation.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322