After nearly a decade of prominent legal battles, a huge win for Ryan Ferguson. An appeals court vacated Ferguson’s murder conviction Tuesday morning.
Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt was murdered in November 2001. Ferguson was arrested in March 2004 for the killing and robbery. He was found guilty, and sentenced to 40 years in prison, in October 2005.
The Western District Court of Appeals Tuesday ruled the state didn’t give Ferguson a fair trial, because it withheld material from an interview with the wife of a key witness.
Local attorney Jennifer Bukowski says on The Gary Nolan Show she expects the Attorney General to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
“And they’ll be only looking to see whether the Western District abused its discretion, which is a much harder thing to find,” Bukowski says. “So it’s much more likely that the Missouri Supreme Court will affirm the Western District’s decision here.”
The state has 15 days to re-try him. If it chooses not to do so, Ferguson is permanently free of the charges.
“They have no evidence any more of guilt. I don’t know that [Boone Co. Prosecutor Dan Knight] could prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without Chuck Erickson. I’m amazed that they were able to get a conviction anyways the first time around on this case,” Bukowski says.
Eagle News reached out to Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight. He was unavailable but someone in his office gave us a statement that reads, “Mr. Knight is aware of the opinion issued today from the Missouri Court of Appeals regarding the Ryan Ferguson case. Until he has had time to read the opinion and to discuss the matter with the Attorney General’s office, he is unable to comment.”