Ryan Ferguson was released from prison on Nov. 12, after spending 10 years behind bars for murder. His charges have been overturned.
Ryan Ferguson, 29, is “ready for anything” now, after spending ten years in prison for the murder of Kent Heitholt, a Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor — a crime he never committed.
Ryan Ferguson Free
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced on Nov. 12 that Ryan would not be retried, and was free. He was released around 6 p.m.
In 2004, Ryan was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison, after being charged with the murder of his fellow student. During the original trial, Chuck Erickson, one of Ryan’s classmates, told the jury that together, they did murder Kent in the parking lot of the newspaper on Halloween night in 2001.
Jerry Trump, a janitor at the Tribune added that he had seen Ryan and Chuck in the parking lot that night. While none of the evidence at the crime scene added up — not even the footprints or fingerprints — the two witnesses were enough for the jury, and both men were charged with murder.
In 2009, Ryan’s attorneys met with Chuck, who admitted that he had lied in his testimony — and the conversation was recorded. Three years later, Chuck had another hearing, where he admitted to being dishonest about Ryan’s involvement. Jerry also came forward admitting that he too, had lied and that the police had pressured him to make the statement.
Judge Daniel Green wasn’t sure of Chuck’s wellbeing so didn’t trust his new admission enough to overturn the conviction. However, when Ryan’s lawyers argued it in September 2013, the conviction was overturned.
Ryan Ferguson: ‘To Get Out, It Takes An Army’
Now that Ryan is free, he couldn’t have been more thankful to those who supported him.
“I would like to thank my parents … without them I wouldn’t have had any hope,” Ryan said on Nov. 12 at the Tiger Hotel in Columbia, Mo. to reporters. “As you can see, really, to get arrested and charged for a crime you didn’t commit, it is incredibly easy and you can lose your life very fast, but to get out it takes an army. I’m ready for anything.
He also commented to Kent’s family, who are now trying to figure out who murdered Kent.
“I can’t imagine how they’re feeling, but the one thing is for them to look at all the facts and ask for justice,” she said. “They’ve been lied to by people they trust and to see them misled by people that they believe are trying to help them. I can’t imagine anything worse than that. I hope that everyone is able to ask that justice is done… and we can find who actually committed this crime.”
— Emily Longeretta