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Missouri man released after conviction is overturned

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 murder.

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

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