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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reconsider denial of Ferguson's appeal

By Gregory Sarno
March 7, 2013 | 12:28 p.m. CST

An open letter to the Honorable Judge Victor C. Howard of the Missouri Court of Appeals, related to Ryan Ferguson v. State of Missouri:

I respectfully implore you to reconsider your denial of post-conviction relief in the above-referenced case. The record demonstrates beyond peradventure that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, resulting in incarceration of an innocent man (e.g., blood forensic evidence at crime scene, linked to neither Ryan Ferguson nor his alleged accomplice, but which established presence of an as-yet-unidentified person, the likely perpetrator who roams the streets free to commit murder again).

Your decision disposed of certain claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, other egregious lapses transpired at trial, including defense counsel’s failure to subpoena, call or question the lead interrogator, Detective John Short, who is captured on a police videotape spoon-feeding incriminating details to a troubled teenager suffering from drug-addled memory contamination.

Compounding that blunder, in closing jury argument defense counsel failed to comment upon the Grand Canyon-esque discrepancy between star witness Charles Erickson’s equivocal videotaped “confession” and his superficially convincing "re-enactment" at trial, which benefited from prosecutorial coaching and rehearsal.

Nor can either of counsel’s failures be excused by tactical considerations under the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Strickland v. Washington, to which a published article of mine made a humble contribution (2 ALR4th 27).

Thank you for taking the time to consider my heartfelt plea for belated justice. A nationwide audience ("Dateline"; "48 Hours") awaits redress of this travesty.

Gregory Sarno received his law degree from the University of California, Berkley.