The trial of one of the men accused of murdering Kent Heitholt, former Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor, will advance to the circuit level.
During a court hearing Friday, Charles Erickson, 19, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. By passing on a preliminary hearing, Erickson will not contest that the state has enough evidence to warrant a trial. His lawyers also will pass on an early chance to review the prosecution’s evidence.
Erickson will be arraigned in circuit court May 3. He has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Judge Larry Bryson postponed Ryan Ferguson’s preliminary hearing until Friday at Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane’s request. Ferguson, 19, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
At a news conference after the hearing, Crane said the prosecution has the option to present the case to a grand jury, but he did not indicate whether he would do so. He declined to comment further on his request for a continuance.
Because grand jury proceedings are closed, Ferguson would not have the same access to evidence as he would in a preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing his lawyers would be allowed to comment on witnesses and evidence before a judge.
Instead, Crane could present his evidence to the grand jury, which would then decide if the evidence warranted a trial. On April 6, the court denied Ferguson’s request to be presented with any evidence against him.
Heitholt was found dead in the Tribune parking lot by co-workers in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2001.
Police arrested Erickson and Ferguson March 10 after receiving an anonymous tip. According to police records, Erickson made statements implicating himself and Ferguson in the crime.
Police believe robbery was the motive.