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Western District Missouri Court of Appeals Vacates Murder Conviction

The Western District Missouri Court of Appeals has vacated the murder conviction of Ryan Ferguson. Ryan was convicted of second-degree murder and first degree robbery in the 2001 death of Columbia Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt.

Attorneys for the state will have 15 days to file a written appeal to retry Ryan. If the state does not file a written appeal within the 15 days then Ferguson will be released. The expected release date would be November 20, 2013.

Three judges from the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals decided to vacate Ferguson's convictions after hearing arguments at a September hearing. The arguments heard stated that the state violated federal law by withholding material evidence during his trial, specifically information that would impeach another state witness.

Heitholt was beaten and strangled to death in the parking lot of the Columbia Tribune in the early hours of November 1st, 2001. In 2003, Charles Erickson told some friends that he had a dream about being involved with this murder. He also implicated Ferguson in the crime. Erickson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery 1st and armed criminal action. He received a 25 year sentence for testifying against Ryan at his trial.

Ferguson and his family have maintained his innocence. For 10 years, Ryan has fought for freedom and it appears that it could be right around the corner.

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