Midwest Innocence Project holds public forum on Ryan Ferguson case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Midwest Innocence Project held a public forum Monday night to discuss the case of Ryan Ferguson,  a Columbia, Mo. man jailed for a crime many believe he didn't commit.

Ferguson is serving a 40-year sentence for the 2001 murder of Kent Heitholt, a sports editor for the Columbia Tribune. Heithholt was beaten and strangled in the parking lot of the newspaper. Ferguson was arrested in 2004 and convicted in 2005.  The testimony of two witnesses helped put Ferguson behind bars, but recently those two witnesses recanted their testimony.

"Really there's no other physical evidence against him." Laura O'Sullivan, legal director for the Midwest Innocence Project said.

Members of the Midwest Innocence Project now want Ferguson to be released from prison.

"This case involves important issues about standard of review, how the courts look at innocence cases and how they look at evidence when you have two people who clearly perjured themselves." O'Sullivan said. "How do you let a conviction stand in those circumstances?"

Ferguson's case is pending in the western district court of appeals.

The Midwest Innocence Project estimates that 1% to 5% of inmates across the country are innocent.

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