“It Is Over”: Ryan Ferguson Released from Prison [PHOTOS]
“It Is Over.” Those are the words lawyer, Kathleen Zellner had written on a sky blue booklet and placed on the windows at the prison on Tuesday to let Ryan Ferguson know he was being released today. (Nov. 12).Ryan Ferguson was accused of killing Columbia Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. A state appeals court overturned his conviction, stating that the prosecutor’s office had withheld evidence from Ferguson’s attorneys, resulting in an unfair trial.
When they got to the prison they had planned on getting him out. But a court order prevented that from happening and was told to get out of his street clothes and back into the orange jumpsuit as they shackled him back up. They transported him to Boone County Courthouse. He thought he was being rearrested, but tonight he stood before a room full of reporters, friends and supporters a free man.
He was overwhelmed by the crowd that was there just for him. He first thanked his mom and dad, Leslie and Bill Ferguson for fighting for him and never giving up. He thanked his lawyer Zellner. He even thanked his sister Kelly Ferguson who had not made it to the press conference yet.
He and his father are planning on advocating for people who have been wrongly accused, including Ferguson’s classmate Chuck Erikson that also was charged for the same murder. Ferguson has no hard feelings for Erikson. “He too has been wrongly charged and we plan on helping him get out and find the true killer,” he said.
Ryan went on to say, “I am very thankful to the Attorney General for looking at the facts of the case and making the decision based on those facts.”
I asked Ferguson, “What is the first thing you are going to do now that you are a free man? What is the first thing on your agenda?” Fergus replied, “I really don’t know.” And a member of the crowd yelled, “run for Mayor of Columbia,” which brought on a thunderous applause and cheers.
As the press conference came to an end, his sister Kelly Ferguson finally made it. She ran up on the stage, hugged him and ran her fingers through his hair. Ryan left with girlfriend Myka Cain in his arms with his family close behind as they headed out for his first night of freedom.
The Ferguson family’s Christmas wish came very early, and at this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner, they will truly have something to be thankful for.