Court grants Ryan Ferguson permission to seek new hearing

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | 5:34 p.m. CDT; updated 7:30 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Ryan Ferguson, at his trial in 2004 in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — Ryan Ferguson, convicted of the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, can ask for another day in court.

On Monday, Missouri's Western District Court of Appeals granted Ferguson permission to ask for a hearing in Cole County in which he will seek a new trial. A previous Missourian story mistakenly reported that Ferguson had been granted the hearing.

The court said in its decision that Ferguson could not have been convicted without the testimony of his co-defendant, Charles Erickson.

In the 2005 trial, Erickson testified that he and Ferguson killed Heitholt in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune early in the morning of Nov. 1, 2001. But in November of last year, Erickson recanted, saying that while Ferguson was present, he alone strangled and beat Heitholt. Ferguson maintains he was never at the scene.

Ferguson's father, Bill Ferguson, is confident his son will get another trial.

"I am optimistic that with Erickson recanting and our new evidence that they will find him innocent of this horrific crime," he said.

Bill Ferguson said he believes neither his son nor Erickson were involved.

"Somebody's guilty of it, but I don't believe the two boys are," he said.

If Ryan Ferguson's request for a new hearing is granted, the hearing would be held in the Cole County Circuit Court. The court has jurisdiction over appeals filed from the Jefferson City Correctional Center, where Ryan Ferguson is incarcerated.

Bill Ferguson said his son's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, also has new witnesses and additional evidence that will serve to exonerate his son should the hearing be granted — including one witness who claims to have been at the scene around the time of the murder.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Bill Ferguson August 24, 2010 | 9:49 p.m.

Zellner said she had requested a new hearing and that the court of appeals should make a ruling in a few weeks. Should the request be granted, a Cole County judge would then determine whether the new statement and the other new evidence merit a retrial.

This paragraph seems dated. The Western Court of Appeals have already make their decision by granting Ryan's motion August 23, 2010

We are now waiting for Cole County to set the date.

(Report Comment)
Laura Johnston August 25, 2010 | 7:36 a.m.

Mr. Ferguson,
You're right -- that paragraph does seem dated. We've updated the story and taken out that information. Thank you for reading.

Laura Johnston, news editor

(Report Comment)
Bill Ferguson August 25, 2010 | 2:38 p.m.

The court said in its decision that Ferguson could not have been convicted without the testimony of his co-defendant, Charles Erickson.

Could the Missourian direct us to the source of this comment

(Report Comment)
Bill Ferguson August 25, 2010 | 9:22 p.m.

Why is the Missourian using a photograph of Ryan that is over 6 years old.
In the interest of accuracy could you consider using his latest photograph (2008)

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.