Ryan Ferguson is appealing his 2005 murder conviction. He is currently serving 40 years for a crime he says he did not commit. Ferguson’s attorneys contend that he was wrongly convicted on circumstantial evidence.
Ferguson and his friend Charles Erikson were arrested for the 2001 robbery and murder of Kent Heitholt.
As reported by ABC News, Erikson accepted a plea deal, admitting that he and Ferguson committed the crime. Jerry Trump, a custodian, also testified that he witnessed the murder.
Ryan Ferguson was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Years later, Erikson and Trump both admitted they lied.
As reported by Connect Mid Missouri, the murder conviction is now before the Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City. Each side will have 15 minutes to present their argument. Ferguson’s attorneys are allowed a 5 minute rebuttal.
The three appellate judges have the power to overturn Ferguson’s conviction and set him free. He could return home within weeks.
However, getting the case overturned will be a challenge.
As reported by CBS News, the Missouri Attorney general has consistently defended the conviction.
In 2010, judges with the Western District Court of Appeals noted that contradictions within the case gave them “pause.” However, they did not make a decision in the appeal.
Instead, they turned the case over to a lower court. In 2012 another judge reviewed the case. Trump and Erikson both recanted their previous testimony about Ferguson’s involvement.
The judge eventually ruled that the witness testimony was not a deciding factor in the original case. Therefore, the conviction against Ryan Ferguson would stand.
In January 2013, Ferguson’s attorneys filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The writ demanded Ferguson’s release from unlawful detention.
The Appeals court agreed to hear arguments from both sides. Although brief, the hearing could change Ryan Ferguson’s life.
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