Ryan Ferguson seeks $100 million legal action for wrongful conviction and detention
Mar 12, 2014 03:25 PM EDT
A lawyer for Ryan Ferguson, who was freed last year after serving around 10 years in jail for a murder he claimed he did not commit, has slapped a $100 million lawsuit against the city of Columbia, Missouri, among others. CNN said Ferguson was initially tried and convicted of killing Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2001.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, named 12 other defendants asides from Columbia. The lawsuit has named the city police department, investigators, the prosecutor's office and others in connection to Ferguson's conviction and incarceration for Heitholt's murder. The defendants, said CNN, were charged with nine separate counts including suppression and fabrication of evidence, investigation failure, malicious prosecution, defamation, false arrest and conspiracy to deprive Ferguson of his constitutional rights.
The lawsuit read, "Not only has he not received an apology from the State of Missouri or Boone County, but some of these officials continue to defame him. Compounding this tragedy, the real murderer of Kent Heitholt has escaped arrest, prosecution, and conviction for 13 years because of Ryan's wrongful arrest, prosecution, and conviction."
A former friend of Ferguson's implicated the latter, stating in court that he expressed dreamlike memories of his alleged killing of Heitholt. Partly because of the testimony, Ferguson was convicted by a court in 2005 and was sentenced to 40 years in jail.
However, the same friend retracted his statement and said he lied in his testimony. A janitor who also placed Ferguson at the murder scene also said in court that he had lied as well, CNN said.
Last year, Ferguson's legal team argued in court that prosecutors illegally had withheld evidence that could have helped their client clear his name. The efforts of Ferguson's camp helped overturn the conviction last fall, the news outlet said. The Jefferson City Correctional Center, where Ferguson was incarcerated, released him in November last year after Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster had stated that he will not attempt a retrial on Ferguson's case.