The Missouri man who has spent the past nine years in jail for a murder he says he didn’t commit now might walk out as a free man thanks to the case against him unraveling.
An appellate courts case will start to hear arguments Tuesday in the murder case where the two key witnesses have recanted their testimonies and no physical evidence was ever found to link the convicted murderer to the crime scene.
Ryan Ferguson, 28, and friend Charles Erickson were both charged with robbing and killing newspaper editor Kent Heitholt as he left work at the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Mo., Halloween night of 2001.
Erickson accepted a plea deal and testified that he and Ferguson committed the crime together. Ferguson, who was 19 at the time, was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery in 2005. He was also sentenced to 40 years in prison despite the hair, blood and fingerprints found at the crime scene didn’t match his.
The other witness to testify in the case was Jerry Trump, a janitor who said he saw Ferguson at the crime scene.
Since then, however, both witnesses have recanted their testimonies.
In an interview with 48 Hours, Erickson said his story was a lie.
“I don’t want to die knowing, you know, this guy is still in prison because of something I said,” Erickson stated.
In an April 2012 hearing, Trump also recanted his story, admitting that he lied, according to radio station 99.7 WPRO News Talk 630.
Ferguson’s father, Bill, has been trying to get his son to be freed since he was arrested for the crime in 2004.
The father believes his son was wrongly convicted because the entire case was not based on physical evidence but rather innuendos and a “great performance by the prosecutors,” he said in an interview with ABC News.
Four years later, Ferguson’s fate lies in the hands of three appellate judges, who can decide to release him within a few weeks.
“We want to expose this justice system for what it really is,” Bill said. “We are not saying that all judges are bad for all prosecutors are bad or the justice system is bad. But we are saying beware.”
Source: ABC News, 630wpro.com