Missouri Assistant Attorney General Susan Boresi was appointed Friday as a special prosecutor in the case involving Ryan Ferguson, who was convicted of a murder that he says he didn’t commit.
Citing a conflict of interest, Boone County Prosecutor Daniel Knight filed a motion Friday requesting a special prosecutor. He cited a recent Missouri Court of Appeals opinion overturning Ferguson’s conviction, which referenced “a current and former staff member.”
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Tuesday’s opinion, by a panel of judges for the Western District of the appellate court, vacated Ferguson’s 2005 conviction for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery on the grounds that the prosecution withheld evidence from defense attorneys that could have helped Ferguson at trial.
It also gave the state a limited amount of time in which to file for a retrial.
Ferguson’s conviction stems from the 2001 murder and robbery of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Ferguson, along with onetime classmate Charles Erickson, was arrested and charged more than two years after the crime.
Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Erickson received a 25-year term.
Ferguson has vehemently denied any involvement in Heitholt’s murder, and the two witnesses whose testimony contributed to his conviction — Erickson and then-Tribune janitor Jerry Trump — have since recanted.
Ferguson was attending college in the Northland at the time of his arrest.