A jury from another county will be brought in to hear the case against murder suspect Ryan Ferguson, now scheduled for trial in late January.
Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane and defense attorney Scott McBride agreed on Lincoln County as the source for potential jurors for the trial. Ferguson, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with the 2001 death of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.
A Missouri statute gives circuit judges the authority to summon a jury from any adjoining judicial circuit. Lincoln County, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, is in the 45th judicial circuit. Because it is not adjacent to the 13th judicial circuit, which consists of Boone and Callaway counties, Circuit Judge Ellen Roper must request approval from the Missouri Supreme Court.
In a brief hearing Monday morning, Crane and McBride agreed to continue the case until early 2005. The attorneys and Roper tentatively settled on the last week in January as a start date. The trial is expected to last up to a week.
With his family in attendance, Ferguson appeared in court in a black-and-white striped jumpsuit. He stood before the judge and spoke twice, confirming that he had been advised of his rights and assenting to the postponed trial date. After the hearing, he remained in custody with no bond.
A second suspect, Charles Erickson, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with Heitholt’s death. He awaits a trial date.