Father pleased with court arguments seeking new trial for son

Attorney Karen Zellner speaks in court Tuesday on behalf of her client, Ryan Ferguson, who was convicted of the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt and is hoping for a new trial. At left is Assistant Attorney General Stephen Hawke, and at right is Zellner’s co-attorney, Doug Johnson.

Attorney Karen Zellner speaks in court Tuesday on behalf of her client, Ryan Ferguson, who was convicted of the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt and is hoping for a new trial. At left is Assistant Attorney General Stephen Hawke, and at right is Zellner’s co-attorney, Doug Johnson. Photo by The Associated Press.

Bill Ferguson of Columbia told reporters Tuesday afternoon he was pleased with the arguments Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green had just heard — even though Green made no ruling to let Ferguson’s son, Ryan, out of prison.

Ryan Ferguson, now 26, currently is in the Jefferson City Correctional Center, serving a 40-year sentence after a Lincoln County jury convicted him — in a Boone County trial — of helping kill Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in the early hours of Nov. 1, 2001.

“Quite a bit happened (today), from our perspective,” Bill Ferguson said Tuesday. “The main thing that I think occurred was from Judge Green, when he acknowledged the ‘Preston Decision’ is the law of the land.

“The state has been — if I can use the analogy of a fish on the bank — flip-flopping around, trying to get back in the water over this issue. And they do not want to acknowledge that ... based on that one decision, Ryan should be given a new trial.”

Ryan Ferguson originally was convicted in 2005 of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, and sentenced to 40 years total.

But his co-defendant, Chuck Erickson — who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action — was sentenced to a total of 25 years because of his cooperation with prosecutors.

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