A man from Missouri was recently released after an appeals court ruled
that he was not granted a fair trial. While the story of Ryan Ferguson
emanates from several states away, we find it to be a compelling tale
that exemplifies why the accused must have experienced legal counsel.
Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for his connection in the murder of Columbia
Daily sports editor Kent Heitholt, which occurred in 2001. He was 17 years
old when the killing occurred, and was originally connected to the crime
based on the testimony of a high-school classmate, Chuck Erickson, who
testified that he dreamt that he and Ferguson were involved in the killings.
Erickson has since recanted his story, claiming that he was a heavy drug
and alcohol user and was not certain of Ferguson’s involvement in the
Further, there was no physical evidence linking Ferguson to the murder
and there were questions surrounding information that the prosecution
should have provided to the defense that would have exonerated him. Specifically,
an investigator for the Boone County district attorney did not share details
of an interview with the wife of a key witness that would have cast serious
doubt about the witness’ account of Ferguson being involved in the
murder. This witness has since recanted his testimony as well.
Based on the prosecutions’ missteps, a state appeals case overturned
Ferguson’s conviction, and the prosecutor announced that the case
would not be re-tried. Ferguson emerged from prison to roaring crowds
at a gathering that resembled a political victory party. He thanked his
family, his supporters and his attorneys for their tireless work.
Source: ABC News.com, “Mo. Man freed after ten years in prison,” David A. Lieb, November 12, 2013