I spent this morning at superior court attending the plea and sentencing hearing of Trevor Ferguson, the 24-year-old Tamworth man accused of giving the man convicted of murdering Krista Dittmeyer a ride home from where he dumped her body. I wasn’t supposed to go, but it worked out that I had to. It worked out to a great opportunity.
I say this time and time again here on LPJ, but I love shooting photos. Photography is actually what first got me into newspapers. I’ve always loved it, but in my current role I find myself shooting only on rare occasions. Our fantastic photographer Jamie Gemmiti winds up scooping most lens opportunities.
Not without reason, either. Given the choice I would hire him to shoot photos over me. He really is great at his job.
But every once in a while I still get to trigger the shutter. Today, at the hearing, because I didn’t know it was my responsibility, I showed up late. Things hadn’t started yet, so I didn’t miss anything, but I was just sitting down when Ferguson walked into the courtroom. I scrambled to get his face as he entered, but I missed. I got a shot or two of his back with the judge in the background, but nothing that was a standout photo.
I new this was going to be a big story (since I was writing it), so I had to have something. I was positioned next to the door he came in through and would leave from, so I figured I had one more chance. The hearing proceeded, and I took notes without ever turning off my camera or putting on the lens cap. It sat next to me on my camera bag. Both it and I were ready for action.
The hearing came and went (read the story here), and then he was being ushered out. This was my shot at a good photo.
Then everything changed. Ferguson was lead over to the gallery, where right in front of me members of his family were sitting. An older woman rose and clasped his face. I could hear them barely, but my hands were on my camera, not my notebook. I shot and shot and shot as she hugged him and he hugged her back as much as his cuffed hands would allow. It was a gentle moment in a story that is all around sad. I found the shot I was looking for.
Ferguson will be in jail for at least the next six years. Anthony Papile, the man convicted of murdering Krista Dittmeyer, will be in jail for at least the next 42. A third man, Michael Petelis, still has to go before a judge. Dittmeyer will be dead for eternity. I’m not sure there is much of silver lining here, except that I got a chance to shoot a front page photo. Small consolation, all things considered.