Ryan Ferguson is finally a free man after he was exonerated for a 2004 murder of a sports editor. Now the 29-year-old said he needs to build his life back after spending nearly a decade behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
The Missourian sat down with “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday with his father, Bill, and explained that he hasn’t been able to grasp his emotions since his release from prison. "It's amazing," he said on “CTM.” "You know, it's quite early in the morning. I haven't really had the opportunity to experience the day yet, but I know as it unfolds there will be new adventures, and it will be incredible, so definitely looking forward to getting into the day."
Ferguson’s parents fought tirelessly for his exoneration, and he thanked them for their efforts to bring him to justice. "They've been there since day one,” he said. “They believed in me. They've taken the time to look at all the facts, and they have been fighting nonstop. That includes my sister as well. My whole family. They have been incredible, and without them I know that it would have been very difficult for me to have hope and have faith in the process and to be there when Kathleen came along to be able to help us."
On Tuesday, the Missouri attorney general’s office declined to retry him for the 2001 murder of a Columbia newspaper editor: “We conclude that Ferguson did not receive a fair trial. His verdict is not worthy of confidence,” the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals said, via Kansas City Star.
Ferguson was still a teen when he was arrested for the murder of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2004. The Missourian found himself incarcerated after former friend Charles Erickson implicated Ferguson in the murder. But Erickson and another “witness,” a janitor, who said he saw the then-teen at the scene of the crime, came forward and said he also lied.
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Fingerprint, hair and bloody footprints were found at the scene, but none of the physical evidence had tied Ferguson to the crime, CBS News added. Despite Erickson’s false confession being one of the main reasons Ferguson received a 40-year sentence in the first place; he feels he was “pushed into a false confession.”
"Mr. Erickson was used, and that's pure and simple,” Ferguson said, and added: "I feel sorry for that individual. Hopefully he'll get justice one day."
Check out Ferguson's interview with "CMT" below: