A man freed after nearly 10 years in prison for murder and robbery convictions spoke to media on his first day of freedom after the convictions were overturned by a Missouri appeals court.
Ryan Ferguson and his family spoke to a plethora of media in the Tiger Hotel balroom Tuesday evening, after the family spent most of the day finalizing Ferguson's release from Jefferson City Correctional Center.
"I absolutely would not be here if it weren't for my family and Kathleen Zellner and her office," Ferguson said.
Ferguson was released after the Missouri attorney general decided not to retry him in the 2001 murder of a Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor.
This development came one week after a state appeals court overturned Ferguson's convictions for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. They say the prosecutor withheld evidence from Ferguson's attorneys and that Ferguson did not receive a fair trial.
Aside from a great many thanks, Ferguson was still in shock that his sentence has finally come to an end.
"I can get back to living my life, though I don't know how that will feel..." Ferguson said, gesturing to the throngs of reporters. "If this is any indication, it's kind of weird," Ferguson said with a laugh.
Ferguson also publicly thanked the judges who who made the rulling which led to him being set free.
"I felt like this was really the first time we had been listened to by the justices, and it feels incredible knowing when we had our hearing that they were actually listening to the facts. They were talking about the facts, and it seemed as though they would actually rule on the facts," Ferguson said.
Ferguson and his family have maintained his innocence the entire time. He said that his experience of being locked up for nearly a decade for the robbery murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt has made him wary of the American justice system.
"As you can see, to get arrested and charged with a crime yuo didn't commit... it's incredibly easy, and you can lose your life really fast." Ferguson said. "But to get out of prison, it takes an army."
"I don't know if you can characterize a decade, but oppression is a good word for it."
Ferguson's father Bill Ferguson said the family wants to help Ferguson's accuser Chuck Erickson get out of jail as well.
"I don't really get caught up in my feelings towards him. I know that he was used and manipulated, and I kind of feel sorry for the guy. I know that he's been victimized, he's an innocent man in prison," Ferguson said.
Ferguson's family says they won't rest until justice is completely served.