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.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Orange Is The New Black has not been cancelled – it was a hoax
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Pope Francis: ‘One in 50’ Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals is a paedophile
Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Supermoon 2014 in pictures: Moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago
Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
£45000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...
£33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...
£35000 - £55000 per annum + BONUS + BENS: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Penet...