Court to rule on appeal of man convicted by 'dream'
Supporters of a man convicted of murder in large part based on the dreams of a witness at trial are nursing fragile hopes that a hearing in a US court today will be a step towards his eventual exoneration.
Little has moved in the Missouri justice system even to allow Ryan Ferguson, 26, a new trial in the 2001 murder of Kent Heitholt in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he worked as sports editor, even though two key witnesses, including the man who had the dreams and who eventually was convicted with him, have recanted their stories.
The key to his regaining his freedom may be the changing recollections of what happened by Ferguson's erstwhile friend Charles Erickson. Both men were arrested in 2005 and charged with murder and robbery after Erickson began telling friends that he had been having disturbing dreams in which he and Ferguson committed the murder on Hallowe'en night in 2001.
But in a deposition last year, Erickson said that he killed the editor on his own. Erickson said in the deposition: "I made up what I said about Ryan being on top of the victim." Later he admits: "I lied about him strangling the victim." A second witness, Jerry Trump, has also since changed his tune.
The hearing today will hear arguments from Kathleen Zellner, a high-profile Chicago lawyer who recently took Ferguson's case on a pro bono basis, that he should be released on the basis of the witness recantations as well as new witness testimony and suggestions that the jury-selection process in the 2005 trial had been unconstitutional. "I think it's going to take a higher court to untangle this case," the lawyer said.
Pressure for Ferguson, who is serving 40 years, at least to win a fresh trial has been kept up by a vigorous public-relations campaign led by his father, Bill Ferguson.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...