Ryan Ferguson Will Use Personal Experiences As Co-Host Of Unlocking The Truth
Ryan Ferguson, who spent almost 10 years in a Missouri prison for a murder that he didn’t commit, will co-host Unlocking The Truth on MTV. The show, also featuring Eva Nagao, will premiere on MTV on November 17.
Unlocking The Truth will look at three different cases where the men convicted of the crimes vehemently deny their guilt.
Ryan Ferguson: Wrongfully Convicted
On November 12, 2013 walked out of a mid-Missouri jail as a free man. The day marked the closing of one chapter for Ferguson and the beginning of another. He had been convicted in 2005 of the murder of Kent Heitholt and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The conviction was due in large part to the testimony of Charles ‘Chuck” Erickson, who had a dream that he and high school friend Ferguson had murdered Heitholt, then the Columbia Tribune sports editor, back in 2001.
The story of Ferguson’s conviction and his father’s quest to see him set free was told by documentary film maker Andrew Jenks in Dream/Killer. Chris Koster, who as Missouri Attorney General asked the Western District Court of Appeals to deny Ferguson his freedom months before he was free, is currently campaigning to be the next Governor of Missouri.
Ferguson and his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, have filed a $100 million civil rights lawsuit against various parties he deems responsible for his false imprisonment.
Zellner is currently representing Steven Avery, the subject of Netflix’s acclaimed Making A Murderer.
Unlocking The Truth
Ryan Ferguson will be co-hosting Unlocking The Truth with Eva Nagao, the managing director of the Exoneration Project. The Exoneration Project is a legal clinic based out of the University of Chicago Law School that works pro bono on cases out of Chicago and around the country to help those wrongfully accused and jailed.
Unlocking The Truth, according to MTV, will examine three real-life cases from around the country. Each case features a man currently serving time in prison for a murder for which he proclaims to be innocent. Some background on those three cases:
Michael Politte: Michael Bernie Politte was convicted in 2002 of killing his mother near Potosi, Missouri at the age of 14 and sentenced to life in prison. Similarities between burn marks on his mother’s body and railroad ties he had set on fire the night before were used at trial. Two juvenile detention workers also testified that “Bernie” made a comment to them about killing his mother. Politte’s two sisters testified at his sentencing that they do not believe their brother killed their mother. His attorney argued that his client did not receive a fair trial. Among his arguments was evidence that was not allowed at trial, like a boot print found leading from the trailer that could not have belonged to his client.
Byron Case: The conviction of Byron Case was suggested by Slate as one the Serial podcast should explore. Like Ferguson, Case’s conviction was based largely on supposed eyewitness testimony. In Case’s plight, it was his ex-girlfriend Kelly Moffett. Case has been in prison since 2001 where he is serving two concurrent life sentences for the murder of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen. While a petition for executive clemency has been filed on Case’s behalf with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, there is also a Keep Byron Case Behind Bars Facebook group. Check out the Free Byron Case Facebook page before Unlocking The Truth airs.
Kalvin Michael Smith: Kalvin Michael Smith has been in prison since 1997 on charges of brutally beating a 33 year-old pregnant North Carolina woman. A website advocating Smith’s innocence maintains that there is significant evidence that another man committed the crime. There is also a Free Kalvin Michael Smith Now Facebook page you can check out before Unlocking The Truth premieres.
Unlocking The Truth with hosts Ryan Ferguson and Eva Nagao premieres on August 17th at 11/10c on MTV. Check out the trailer below.
MTV will simulcast the premiere of Unlocking the Truth on both YouTube and Facebook Live. The episode will then be available to watch for free on the platforms after the airing.
Unlocking The Truth trailer
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