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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A central Missouri county has hired four attorneys to help defend itself and three employees named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man whose murder conviction was overturned after he served nearly a decade behind bars.
 
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Ryan Ferguson filed an amended federal civil rights suit earlier this month against Boone County, former prosecuting attorney Kevin Crane and investigators Ben White and William Haws.
The suit claims the county has "customs, policies and omissions in training that caused the deprivation" of Ferguson's rights.
 
Ferguson was convicted in 2005 of killing Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2001, but a three-judge state appeals court panel vacated his convictions last year because prosecutors wrongly withheld evidence favorable to Ferguson's defense.
 
Published in Local News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed the city of Columbia from a lawsuit filed by a man who spent more than 10 years in prison for murder before his convictions were vacated.
 
U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued an order last week dismissing the city from a lawsuit filed by Ryan Ferguson. The city was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be added to the lawsuit again in the future.
 
The city was one of 13 defendants in the lawsuit filed by Ferguson, who was convicted in the 2001 killing Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. He was released in November after his convictions were vacated.
 
The Tribune reports the dismissal is contingent upon it having no effect on Ferguson's remaining claims against the other defendants.
Published in Local News
   COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A newspaper report says the attorney for a man whose conviction in a Missouri sports editor's slaying was overturned has filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $100 million.
   The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Kathleen Zellner alleges fabricated evidence in Ryan Ferguson's case and a lack of a complete police investigation into the 2001 killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, among other things.
   The lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The newspaper reports that the suit asks for actual damages of $75 million and compensatory damages of $25 million.
   The Tribune reports that Zellner also demands a jury trial and names a total of 13 defendants, including the City of Columbia, the Columbia Police Department and Boone County.
 
Published in Local News
Monday, 09 December 2013 06:08

Newspaper editor's murder under review

  COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Columbia police detective is taking a fresh look at a journalist's 2001 slaying after one of two men originally convicted of murder was freed after his case was overturned.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports police are reviewing the sizable case file in the death of former Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, who was strangled and beaten to death in the newspaper's parking lot.

Ryan Ferguson spent nearly a decade in prison, but was released in November after an appeals court panel ruled that prosecutors wrongly withheld evidence from the defenses. Missouri's attorney general opted to not retry Ferguson.

Chuck Erickson continues to serve a 25-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to killing Heitholt. Ferguson says his former high school classmate is innocent.

Published in Local News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Police say they will look into any new leads in the 2001 slaying of a newspaper sports editor after one of the men originally convicted had his case overturned and was freed.

The Columbia Police Department issued a written statement Wednesday saying it respects an appeals court decision that reversed the murder and robbery convictions of Ryan Ferguson in the killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.

The police department says it will follow up on any new information that is brought to its attention.

Ferguson was freed Tuesday evening after the Missouri attorney general decided not to re-try him.

Chuck Erickson remains in prison after pleading guilty to Heitholt's murder. Erickson originally testified against Ferguson but later recanted. Ferguson says neither one of them killed Heitholt.

 

Published in Local News

   Prosecutors have 15 days to decide whether to retry a man convicted in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.  

   A state appeals court panel Tuesday overturned Ryan Ferguson's 2005 conviction.  The court ruled 3-0 that he didn't get a fair trial because prosecutors withheld evidence from Ferguson's defense team.  

   The case had garnered national attention because Ferguson's friend Chuck Erickson had testified that he had remembered in a dream that he and Ferguson had been involved in Heitholt's death after a night of heavy partying.  

   Erickson is serving a 25 year sentence as part of a plea agreement, but later recanted his testimony.  So did a security guard who had testified that he saw Erickson and Ferguson at the newspaper offices the night Heitholt was robbed, beaten and strangled to death. 

   Ferguson's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she has petitioned for her client's release on bail while prosecutors decide whether or not to retry him.

Published in Local News

   A documentary crew is in the process of filming the story of a notorious Missouri murder.  Columbia Daily Tribune editor Kent Heitholt was beaten, strangled and robbed in the newspaper's parking lot in November 2001.  

   Ryan Ferguson is serving a 40-year sentence for the murder.  He was convicted in 2005, but has maintained his innocence.  

   The Tribune reports that MTV Host and filmmaker Andrew Jenks and his crew are following the progress of Ferguson's case as it wends it's way through the appeals court process.  Jenks says he has no predetermined judgments about Ferguson's case.

Published in Local News

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