In 2005, 19 year-old Ryan Ferguson was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Ferguson’s conviction was overturned in November, and he was subsequently released from a Missouri penitentiary. Now, Ferguson is seeking $75 million in wrongful imprisonment damages, and an additional $25 million in punitive damages, for the 10 years of his life that he lost while serving the prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.
In 2005, Ferguson was convicted in the 2001 death of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Prosecutors alleged that Ferguson murdered Heitholt in the newspaper’s parking lot, relying heavily on the testimony of Chuck Erickson, a co-defendant in the murder who claimed to have been with Ferguson that night. Erickson initially told police he had no memory about what happened that night, but told prosecutors two years later that he had begun to remember the killing.
On Monday, March 10, following his release from prison, Ferguson filed a lawsuit in the federal court in Kansas City, MO, naming numerous parties as defendants, including Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm, former Boone County prosecutor Kevin Crane, nine Columbia police detectives and prosecutor’s investigators, the city of Columbia, MO, and Boone County. Ferguson alleges that he was wrongfully convicted, and that police improperly and illegally fed Erickson details about the crime to bolster his confession.
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