Update: July 12 at 6:00 p.m.:
A man serving 40 years in prison for murder is one step closer to getting a new trial.
A Cole County Judge heard arguments in the case against Ryan Ferguson.
The Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that it was illegal for people to get out of jury duty by paying $50. That ruling allowed a convicted meth lab operator named Donald Preston to get a new trial. Defense Attorneys for Ryan Ferguson say Ferguson deserves a new trial for the same reason. It appears Cole County Judge Daniel Green is leaning toward granting Ferguson a new trial after he said the Preston case is now the law of the land.
Ryan TMs father Bill Ferguson said, When Judge Green looks at the Attorney General and says that is the law of the land. Preston is the law of the land. I don TMt really see how we are going to get around that. He is right. It is the law of the land. Based on the law of the land, Ryan should get a new trial.
Nationally known defense attorney and high-priced lawyer Kathleen Zellner is now representing Ryan Ferguson for free. Zellner said she has already helped free 13 men from prisons who were wrongly convicted of crimes. She hopes Ryan Ferguson is number 14.
Zellner said, He is innocent. He is clearly innocent. It TMs shocking that Casey Anthony can walk out the door, but Ryan Ferguson is still sitting in prison. I think it is incumbent upon the Courts of Missouri to rectify the wrong.
Zellner presented 3 other issues in her argument for a new trial for Ferguson. Zellner said co-defendant Chuck Erickson and witness Jerry Trump have both admitted they lied during Ferguson TMs 2005 trial. Zellner also has a new witness named Kim Bennett who said Ferguson was not at the murder scene. Zellner predicts a ruling on a new trial for Ryan Ferguson sometime next month.
Ferguson was convicted of the 2001 murder of former Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt.
Update: July 12 at 1:55 p.m.: Attorneys for the state and Ryan Ferguson are arguing their cases in Cole County Circuit Court.Lawyers for Ferguson are arguing he should get a new trial due to the recanting of two witness testimonies. They also argue that the jury selection process which was later ruled to be unfair to a defendent should grant Ferguson a new trial.The Attorney General's Office is arguing recanted testimony is not credible.Original Story:A man convicted six years ago in the killing of a Columbia Tribune Sports Editor is hoping for a new trial.Ryan Ferguson's latest legal argument will be heard Tuesday in a Cole County courtroom.Chuck Erickson now says he was lying when he told police that he and Ferguson killed Kent Heitholt on Halloween night 2001.Erickson now says he alone killed Heitholt.He said Ferguson was only a witness.The Missouri Attorney General's office said in a petition filed in May that Erickson's reversal is not credible.Assistant Attorney General Stephen Hawke wrote that Erickson's multiple statements before, during and after the trial still placed Ferguson at the murder scene with sufficient detail for a jury to convict Ferguson of felony murder.