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Missouri Supreme Court declines to hear Ferguson appeal

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 3:54 p.m. CDT; updated 10:02 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 15, 2009
Ryan William Ferguson, 19, accused of killing Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. The murder took place in the Tribune parking lot on Nov. 1, 2001.

COLUMBIA – The Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear Ryan Ferguson’s appeal based on a jury selection policy in his 2005 murder trial.

Ferguson’s appeal claimed that a Lincoln County policy allowing potential jurors to opt out of jury duty by performing six hours of community service prevented him from having a jury composed of a random cross-section of the population.

His attorney, public defender Valerie Leftwich, said she did not plan to try to raise the issue in federal court.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan had already rejected the appeal in a Jan. 9 decision, and the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals declined to hear the appeal on March 31.

In his ruling, Callahan wrote that, although the jury selection policy seemed at odds with Missouri law, it did not deny Ferguson a fair trial because only 13 of the 848 potential jurors chose the community service option.

Callahan also rejected the appeal on procedural grounds, ruling that it was now too late to raise the jury selection issue. Though the Missouri Supreme Court did not issue a statement with its denial Tuesday, Leftwich speculated that the court may have accepted these procedural claims.

Ferguson, who is serving a 40-year sentence, has a separate appeal now being considered by Boone County Circuit Judge Jodie Asel claiming his original defense team was ineffective.

He was convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with the 2001 killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Since his conviction, Ferguson and his family have maintained his innocence.


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Comments

Bill Ferguson May 6, 2009 | 6:20 a.m.

We are happy that the Missouri Supreme Court responded quickly to Ryan’s Habeas Appeal regarding the jury issue.
We do not agree with their decision but we are ready for the focus to move back
to his Ineffective Assistance Appeal.

This jury procedure conducted by the Lincoln County Judge was found to be in violation of Missouri Statute and has since been disbanded.

The Supreme Court's decision today will now free Judge Asel to decide Ryan’s Ineffective Assistance claim which he made in July 2008 during a three day hearing.

During that hearing former Prosecutor Crane was charged with two Brady Violations.
Shawna Ornt, an eye witness, testified in July that she had told Prosecutor Crane on three occasions prior to Ryan’s trial that the person who spoke to her and was drawn in the composite with the help of Detective Nichols was not Ryan Ferguson or Chuck Erickson.
Unfortunately Shawna Ornt was never asked if she could identify Ryan during the trial.
Ornt testified in July that had she been asked she would have testified that the person she saw was not Ryan or Chuck.

Ornt was one of two dozen witnesses to testify to the inconsistencies of Chuck Erickson’s trial testimony. We are happy that the Missouri Supreme Court responded quickly to Ryan’s Habeas Appeal regarding the jury issue.
We do not agree with their decision but we are ready for the focus to move back
to his Ineffective Assistance Appeal.

This jury procedure conducted by the Lincoln County Judge was found to be in violation of Missouri Statute and has since been disbanded.

The Supreme Court's decision today will now free Judge Asel to decide Ryan’s Ineffective Assistance claim which he made in July 2008 during a three day hearing.

During that hearing former Prosecutor Crane was charged with two Brady Violations.
Shawna Ornt, an eye witness, testified in July that she had told Prosecutor Crane on three occasions prior to Ryan’s trial that the person who spoke to her and was drawn in the composite with the help of Detective Nichols was not Ryan Ferguson or Chuck Erickson.
Unfortunately Shawna Ornt was never asked if she could identify Ryan during the trial.
Ornt testified in July that had she been asked she would have testified that the person she saw was not Ryan or Chuck.

Ornt was one of two dozen witnesses to testify to the inconsistencies of Chuck Erickson’s trial testimony.
This is a link to her court testimony last July.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APglTt2Sw...

(Report Comment)
lizzi palmer June 18, 2012 | 2:22 p.m.

Please can someone tell me where I can get a Free Ryan Bracelet. I live in the UK and have kept up to date with precedures since I watched the 48 hours program on Youtube. I am disgusted with this obvious miscarriage of justice and want to spread the story over here and show my support in whatever way I can. I wish I was rich, but if there is anywhere I can make a donation I would be happy to give what I can afford - which isnt much but hey every bit helps I suppose. Anyway - getting off the point. Can anyone give me some pointers on anything I can do? Thanks Lizzi xx

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett June 18, 2012 | 6:54 p.m.

@"The Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear Ryan Ferguson’s appeal based on a jury selection policy in his 2005 murder trial."

Good.

(Report Comment)

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