Senate bill aims to curb wrongful convictions

The hearing for SB 732 was canceled Monday because of a filibuster on the Senate floor.

A filibuster on the Missouri Senate floor delayed a hearing on a bill that would modify the rules of evidence gathering and storage in criminal proceedings in an effort to curb wrongful convictions.

Senate Bill 732's sponsor, democratic State Senator Joe Keaveny, said Monday that any time the wrong person is behind bars it means the real criminal is still on the streets.

"We're trying to improve the collection of evidence and the storage of evidence and the reliability of eyewitness testimony," Keaveny said.

He added that while wrongful convictions aren't necessarily common in Missouri, any time it happens it ruins multiple lives.

The bill also addresses a need to record all suspect interrogations. That's the most important part for Bill Ferguson, whose son Ryan's murder conviction was overturned just this year.

"It should start at the very moment of the interrogation, and the camera should not go off until you can complete it. Because there's just too many stories [where the camera stops], and [people] reiterate and practice...So we want to support the bill in all three areas but in particular the videoing from beginning to end without stop, without fail," Bill Ferguson said.

Bill Ferguson was scheduled to testify in favor of the bill Monday, but was unable to when the hearing was canceled. Also scheduled to testify was Josh Kezer, who served over 15 years behind bars for the murder of a southeast Missouri college student.

Kezer's conviction was overturned in 2009. He says wrongful convictions only create more victims and injustice for the loved ones of the victims.

"As an innocent man, I'm a victim. Ryan Ferguson is a victim. But we have understanding who the victims are in these cases; they're the people that were killed. And we're here to try to represent people along those lines on every get justice for everybody. That's why I believe this is a common sense bill," Kezer said.

No word yet on when the hearing will be rescheduled.