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Ferguson Loses Another Appeal

A Columbia man in prison for the 2001 murder of a newspaper sports editor gets rejected again by an appeals court.  This time the state appeals court says there’s no merit to his lawyer’s claim that the 2005 Lincoln County jury was selected improperly.  24 year old Ryan Ferguson says 13 people were sent home from a jury pool of over 800 prospects and allowed instead to perform community service.  Cole County Judge Richard Callahan says this didn’t cause a failure in the jury pool because it was such a small percentage.  Ferguson remains in the Jefferson City Correctional Center, serving a 40-year sentence for the 2001 strangulation and beating death of Kent Heitholt.


  1. feom columbia Trib comments:
    RMRIINC says…
    CopDad: Complete BS. If the prosecution had the evidence you are disputing in a light favorable to it, these disputes would never come about. The fact is, that the lack of DNA matching Ryan and/or Chuck in such a bloody crime scene, where it is quite evident that a fight occurred (evidence by defensive wounds on Kent Heitholt’s hands) should certainly be a red flag that these two boys did not commit this crime (look up Locard’s Theory; Detectives use it all of the time to charge a defendant, and Prosecutor’s use it to get a conviction all of the time). Cellular towers, you know as well as I do that the investigation does not stop with cellular tower ping reports, calls made at the time of triangulation would be investigated to see who the receiving caller was talking to at that time i.e.: The night of the call, who were you talking to on the phone, or who left a message on your voice mail.Cellular phone pings are continuous to the receiving cell phone, this crime occurred in the city, cellular tower reception would be at it’s strongest there, in rural areas perhaps there could possibly be an issue with signal strength, but not in metropolitan areas. C’mon, CopDad, with you being a Police Officer I expect more of an attempt to BS us than that.

    Questionable Issues:

    (1) Chuck was INDEED fed the hold back information by Detective John Short and prior to being given this hold back information Chuck had NO IDEA how this crime occurred.

    (2) Why did Kevin Crane hold back the fact that another person made a confession that he committed the crime to a third party? EVEN if this third party confession was not credible information, why did Kevin Crane deny the defense an opportunity to follow up on it?

    (3) Jerry Trump; what makes him such a believable witness when he is a convicted child molester? Why believe him over defense witnesses with no prior criminal history?

    (4) Shawna Ornt; why did Kevin Crane deny her an opportunity to tell the court that the two people she saw the night of the Heitholt murder did not match the appearance of Ryan and Chuck?

    no physical evidence linking chuck and/or ryan to this crime! i might remind you, a bloody crime scene, where a fight ensued, and NO evidence transfer that would link Chuck and/or Ryan to the crime? I suppose most people have no idea how unrealistic this is….

    Two teen aged boys, both under 5′ 8″, both under 180 Lbs, took down and killed a man 6′ 3″, and 320 Lbs, who would have been fighting for his life? Do you REALLY believe that crap? And don’t say they took him by surprise, because that would have been impossible. i walked that crime scene, I saw the distance they would have had to quietly cover to take him by surprise, in a parking lot surrounded by buildings, where sound would echo, with rocks and glass all over the ground. did not happen!

    This case BEGS for a second look!

  2. How many appeals until everyone realizes that this kid committed murder. I am all for appeals, it is his right as a citizen, and I would never take that away. However, it’s amazing to me how much Dateline NBC people in Columbia watch, and suddenly, they are judicial experts. He has lost every appeal asked for. Unless there is some groundbreaking evidence that comes forth, he will spend 40 years in jail.

  3. There will never be that many appeals. The turning down of appeals doesn’t make him any more guilty then the overall lack of evidence. Dateline had nothing to do with my decision. Why would the DNA point a different direction?
    He was convicted by a jury because he was a smart-aleck and did not connect with them. And because they wer not allowed to hear the truth. Wonder what they think now.

  4. Fay, are you a lawyer? Are you a judicial expert? Are you a judge? I believe more than 3 judges have found that the jury selection and the guilty verdict were reasonable. I understand that we need to be 100% sure when putting a man in jail for 40 years, but after all appeals are done, I think you will have the same verdict.

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