Nearly a decade after Ryan Ferguson was implicated in the 2001 murder of a Missouri sports writer and eight years after he was convicted, a Missouri appeals court ordered his release from prison this morning.
The body of
sports writer Kent Heithold was discovered in the newspaper’s parking lot in the early morning of November 1, 2001. In a bizarre admission, Ferguson’s former classmate Charles Erickson claimed to have read about Heithold’s murder and allegedly had a dream about killing the victim and implicated Ferguson. Ferguson was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 40 years behind bars. Four years later, Erickson said he lied and Ferguson was innocent.
KMOX-CBS St. Louis reported that the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District ruled this morning that Ferguson did not receive a fair trial and ordered his conviction vacated. According to his attorneys, prosecutors withheld evidence from an interview with the wife of a key witness who ultimately recanted his testimony against Ferguson.
“The question is not whether Ferguson would more likely than not have received a different verdict with the evidence, but whether in its absence he received a fair trial resulting in a verdict worthy of confidence,” Judge Martin wrote.
“The undisclosed evidence renders Ferguson’s verdict not worthy of confidence,” Martin added.