Ryan Ferguson Spent 10 Years In Prison For Crime He Didn’t Commit
Ryan Ferguson was awarded $11 million earlier today in his civil rights case.
— Kathleen Zellner (@ZellnerLaw) July 10, 2017
A judge in Jefferson City will hear arguments today and determine the value of ten years of Ryan Ferguson’s life.
Ferguson spent ten years in prison for his role in the murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. A role that he never had.
With no physical evidence linking Ferguson to the 2001 murder, he was convicted predominately on the testimony of Charles “Chuck” Erickson. Erickson was brought in for questioning by police after he had told others that he had had a dream about being involved in Kent Heitholt’s murder. Erickson recanting his testimony led to Ferguson’s release.
Ferguson and his attorney originally filed the civil rights lawsuit in 2014 seeking $100 million and alleging a conspiracy to deprive Ferguson of his constitutional rights, among other things.
U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey will preside over a one-day trial in Jefferson City today involving a civil rights lawsuit Ferguson filed against the city of Columbia after his 2013 release from prison.
Judge Laughrey will determine the damages owed to Ferguson in his civil rights lawsuit against the city of Columbia as well as officials and police officers involved in his prosecution. Among those officials are six current or former Columbia Police Department officers and current Division III Circuit Judge Kevin Crane. Crane was the Boone County prosecuting attorney that prosecuted Ferguson.
According to an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, a joint filing determined that Ferguson lost an estimated $462,903 in earnings due to being incarcerated over the last ten years. It also provided estimated total losses during Ferguson’s working lifetime of between $1.5-3 million in wages.
Ferguson is being represented by the law firm of Kathleen Zellner. On her website, Zellner claims to have “righted more wrongful prosecutions than any private attorney in America” over the last 20+ years. Zellner and her firm successfully worked to have Ferguson’s conviction overturned, which led to Ryan Ferguson becoming a free man on November 12, 2013.
In another filing with the court, Zellner provided details of her firm’s legal expenses involving Ferguson totaling nearly $1.3 million and his family expenses topping $150,000.
Zellner is currently representing Steven Avery, who was the subject of Making a Murderer on Netflix.
Another report filed in federal court detailed Ferguson’s income since being released from prison. Although not employed, Ryan Ferguson has earned $59,500 for a book deal and $100,000 for his work with MTV on Unlocking The Truth. It was also reported that Ferguson was paid $10,000 for promoting vitamins.
Dream/Killer, a documentary on Ferguson’s case from Andrew Jenks was released in 2015.
An effort is now underway to see Erickson released from prison.
Ferguson can be found on Twitter at @LifeAfterTen.
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