Judge sends bestiality case to grand jury

FRONT ROYAL – The case of a man accused of committing a sex act with a dog goes to a grand jury next month.

Christopher Lee Ferguson, 31, of 1383 Old Winchester Pike, appeared in Warren County General District Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on a felony charge of bestiality. Judge W. Dale Houff said after hearing witness testimony that he found probable cause to certify the case to the grand jury.

Brandon Keller represented Ferguson. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton prosecuted the case.

The probation officer assigned to Ferguson’s case testified that she interviewed the defendant in April after he participated in a lie detector test as required under the terms of his sex-offender treatment. A contractor in Winchester conducted the test to see if Ferguson had committed any illegal sex acts. The probation officer testified that Ferguson admitted during an interview that he committed a sex act involving the dog while he was staying in a residence on John Marshall Highway.

Front Royal police detective Landin Waller testified that he conducted a subsequent interview with Ferguson during which the defendant again admitted to committing the act. At that time Waller had not read Ferguson his Miranda rights nor placed the defendant under arrest. Waller testified that he told Ferguson he would consult with the commonwealth’s attorney.

Keller called no witnesses to testify. The attorney questioned whether or not Layton had provided a “scintilla of evidence” to prove the commonwealth’s case.

The judge said that he found the evidence presented through testimony, while mostly circumstantial, sufficient to find probable cause to certify the case to the grand jury, which meets July 5.

Ferguson is a registered sex offender and was convicted in Shenandoah County Circuit Court in 2007 for attempted rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration and sexual battery. Ferguson was sentenced to 10 years in prison with less than four years to serve.

Layton commented that he expected the Shenandoah County commonwealth’s attorney to seek a show cause order for Ferguson to appear in circuit court to face charges of violating probation.

Judge Ronald Napier had revoked Ferguson’s bond during a hearing in Warren County Circuit Court on Monday. Ferguson remains held without bond in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com