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Judge denies Ryan Ferguson habeas corpus

Ryan Ferguson hearing
August Kryker
Columbia Tribune

A Missouri judge has refused to grant a new trial for a Columbia man convicted of second-degree murder in the 2001 killing of a newspaper sports editor.

Ryan Ferguson was one of two teenagers accused in the beating and strangulation of Kent Heithold outside the Columbia Daily Tribune early on the morning of Nov. 1, 2001.

Ryan’s father Bill Ferguson has been spearheading the effort to prove his son’s innocence.

“I am just devastated,” said Bill Ferguson.

He says he hadn’t heard the news until KBIA reached him for comment.

”I am just shocked beyond words.”

Ferguson’s attorneys based his bid for a new trial partly on recanted testimony from two key witnesses, including co-defendant Chuck Erickson.

Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled Wednesday against Ferguson's request. The judge said he doubted that Erickson and a janitor who had implicated Ferguson were truthful when they recanted their earlier testimony.

“I just think the judge is totally wrong, if this is, if what you are saying is correct, this is shocking and appalling,” said Bill Ferguson. He says they will appeal the decision.

KBIA will have more on this story, but for now, you can can read the judgment here for yourself (.pdf)

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