A Columbia man convicted nearly 7 years ago for killing a newspaper sports editor in 2001 has returned to court this week in his latest bid for a new trial.
Ryan Ferguson is serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder and robbery in the strangling death of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt in the newspaper's parking lot.
Ferguson has convinced a judge to allow new evidence during a week long hearing at the Cole County Courthouse.
Former Columbia Daily Tribune janitor Jerry Trump testified in person today. Judge Daniel Green requested Trumpâ??s court appearance after he wasnâ??t satisfied with Trumpâ??s video deposition during yesterdayâ??s proceedings. Trump told the judge that he lied when he said he saw Ryan Ferguson at the murder scene. Trump said former Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane coached him to identify Ferguson and accomplice Chuck Erickson.
Trump said, â??I am testifying even though I might be charged with perjury. I want to have forgiveness from Ryan.â??
Day 2 in Ryan Fergusonâ??s hearing for a new trial brought a forensic pathologist to the stand. Dr. Larry Blum said an autopsy showing Heitholt died of strangulation and a blow to the head suggests the murder was not motivated by robbery. This questions the theory from police that Heitholt was killed during a robbery. On top of that, Fergusonâ??s attorney said former medical examiner Eddie Addelsteen missed some evidence because he wasnâ??t trained in forensics.
Ferguson is serving a 40 year sentence in Jefferson City's State Penitentiary and is not expected to testify during his hearing.
Another key witness is scheduled for tomorrowâ??s evidentiary hearing. Fergusonâ??s former high school friend and co-defendant Chuck Erickson is expected to explain why he lied during Ryan Fergusonâ??s murder trial.
Fergusonâ??s evidentiary hearing is expected to wrap up on Friday.
A crew from the CBS News program 48 Hours is in Jefferson City this week covering the hearing.