Paul Ferguson sentenced to up to 100 years over death of disabled younger brother after tearful ‘mercy’ plea at trial

THE 21-year-old brother who pleaded guilty to child abuse in the death of his younger sibling has been sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison for his sick admission.

A tearful Paul Ferguson begged the judge for “mercy and fairness” after admitting to torturing his special needs brother, Timothy Ferguson, 15, on orders from their mother, Shanda Vander Ark.

Paul Ferguson’s reaction after a judge sentenced him to 30 to 100 years in prison for the death of his younger brother, TimothyCredit: CourtTV
Timothy Ferguson, 15, weighed just 69 pounds when he was found dead on July 6, 2022Credit: Muskegon County Circuit Court
Shanda Vander Ark, the mother of Paul and Timothy Ferguson, was sentenced to life in prison in January
Paul Ferguson admitted to torturing his 15-year-old special needs brother on orders from their mother

Ferguson, who pleaded guilty to child abuse charges in December, begged Judge Matthew Kacel to show him “compassion” after he was given the chance to address the court.

“What reasons can justify my actions? I can make up a thousand and never believe one,” said Ferguson, who was seated beside his lawyer wearing a navy blue prison jumpsuit.

“What words can voice my regrets? I can think of millions and never feel it’s enough.

“If I can do it all again and do it right, I would. I feel like I will pay for my choices and never feel better because he’s still gone.

“I’ve had time to think during my time in Muskegon County Jail, and I’ve realized many things about myself that I might never have considered otherwise.”

“My problems and flaws, to put it simply, are the place to begin corrections of self,” Ferguson continued as he stared down directly at his prepared statement.

“I ask the judge for nothing more than mercy and fairness. To offer me compassion so I might learn from him.

“I only hope to better myself in the coming days and serve my time with what little honor I have left and make right my faults in search of a better tomorrow.”


Judge Kacel ripped Ferguson after his teary statement, calling him a near “psychopath” and saying he believes the 21-year-old is “just as bad, if not worse” than his mother.

“Mr. Ferguson is trying to shift blame from him to his mother and say that somehow, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have done this, or she’s the one that did this,” Judge Kacel said.

“The truth of this is that we have two individuals that lack empathy, lack emotion.”

“The Court is concerned that Mr. Ferguson will not get the help he needs in prison,” the judge said, adding, “I think he’s one step away from becoming a psychopath like his mother.”

“Mr. Ferguson, I believe you are a product of your environment, but I don’t believe that you’re sorry, I don’t,” said Judge Kelce.

“I don’t think you have empathy. I don’t think you have any emotion whatsoever, and that’s what scares the court.”

Ferguson looked up in disbelief and shock as a judge sentenced him to 30 to 100 years.


Timothy, 15, was found dead at his family’s home in Norton Shores, Michigan, about 40 miles west of Grand Rapids, on July 6, 2022.

The teen, who weighed just 69 pounds when he died, had autism and was speech and motor impaired.

Ferguson and Vander Ark participated in the harrowing torture by feeding the 15-year-old hot sauce, putting him in ice baths, and depriving him of sleep and food.

Ferguson pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse in December 2023 and turned on his mother, saying she directed him to abuse his younger brother.

Meanwhile, during her trial, Vander Ark pointed the finger at Ferguson, claiming he was the one who concocted the abusive discipline methods in their home.

Vander Ark was sentenced to life without parole and declined to speak at her sentencing in January.

Timothy’s older siblings, Millie and Nolan Ferguson, traveled from two states to make impact statements about their little brother during their mother’s sentencing hearing.

“I want the world to know that Timothy was wanted,” Millie said.

“If not by her, then by me. He was loved by me. I regret not hugging more, and teasing him so much, and not telling him I love him more often.

“I regret not dancing with him at my brother’s wedding the last time I saw him. These are the things that I can’t remedy now.

“There’s no fixing what’s been done. That’s my regret – that I couldn’t protect him when he needed me most,” she said.

Millie went on to discuss the time that she and her siblings were taken away from their parents by Child Protective Services.

“The victim of this crime can’t speak for himself,” she said.

“I want the woman who killed my little brother to face the highest punishment possible.”

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