Transcript for Ryan Ferguson Freed After Decade in Prison
FOR MANY KIDS IN THEIR 20s It is a team to try different jobs, fall in love, maybe get married. Ryan ferguson has not had a ance to do an of these things. He spent the last eight years in jail convicted of a murder he says he had nothing to do with. But his family never gave up their fight for his freedom. Today is beat ging of the beginning of the rest of his life. Here is dan a brahms. Reporter: Ryan ferguson is a free man after spending fearly a decade in prison for a brutal murder he always said he didn't commit. To get arrested and charged for a crime you didn't commit it is easy, you can lose your life very fast. But to get out of prison it takes -- an army as you can see. Reporter: Ryan ferguson's parents rushed to the prison to pick him up. And celebrated his hard-fought victory. I would look ike to absolutely thank my parents. My father, my mother. Reporter: Ferguson spent all MOST ALL OF HIS 20s IN A MAXIMUM Security prison yet not a shred of physical evidence linking him to the murder and as of last year not a single witness to implicate him. We sat done with ryan before he was released. You have got to be furious? Absolutely. I have suffered a lot. Worse I sffeel like my family has suffered far more than I have. Reporter: His incredible saga started a decade ago. Former eagle scout. He was a popular kid, extremely close with his family growing up in columbia, missouri. Leaving class one day he was suddenly pulled over by police. I lived about a mile away from the school. There were these guys who were tailing me. Reporter: He was stunned to hear they were accusing him of a vicious murder that occurred two years earlier on halloween night. The victim, beloved sports journalist and father of two, ken hitehold, bludgeoned and strangled in the parking lot of the columbia daily tribune where he worked. Obviously, I had nothing to do with that. Questioned me for an hour. I've go back. So it was a relief. I was not there. Reporter: That relief fade the fast. Ferguson was questioned for hours. What the hell is going on? Reporter: And never wavered in his insistence that he had nothing to do with the murder. I wasn't there. I dent do anything. Reporter: Why was he arrested at all? Because hours earlier in an interrogation room down the hall, this man, classmate of ryians, told police a very different story. Saying he and ryan were response bum for that unsolved crime. Whose idea was it? Ryan's idea. Reporter: Charles ericson and ryan had been out drinking that halloween night when the man was killed. We had a few drinks, hung out. When the bar closed I took ericson home. And that was pretty much the night. Reporter: Years later, erics on who had a history of substance abuse started telling people including ryan that he had a dream he had been at the crime scene the night of the murder. He's clearly inebriated. Asking me if I knew of anything about the murder of ken hitehold. I don't know anything. I took you home that night. You even saying that is incredibly strange. Kind of freaking me out. Reporter: When interrogated by police, ericson seemed confused to say the least. He deidn't seem to know how the murder occurred. Is that right? Yeah. No. Reporter: When brought to the scene, where it happened -- does this look familiar to you. I don't remember most of what happened. Reporter: Or what the murder weapon had been. Reporter: The detectives got aggressive. Ericson claimed that he and ryan ferguson had run out of drinking money and decided to rob someone. You better start thinking very clearly. Okay. Because the it its you that is on chopping block. The state calls charles ericson. Reporter: At the trial, ericson somehow knew all of those details that eluded him during the interrogation and was the star witness against eric ferguson. You were down here. He had his foot on the victim's back. Pulling up on the belt. Like this. Reporter: That detailed klt w -- account was supported by the janitor, jesse trump who identified ferguson as one of two men he saw in the parking lot immediately after the murder. Would you point to the individual or individuals, please. Yes. Reporter: Ericson and trump were the case against ferguson. Because after all, the dna found apt the scene, footprints. Fingerprints, none matched ferguson. But enough for a jury to convict. Does the jury find that defendant ryan william ferguson guilty of murder in the second degree. Reporter: But four years after that 2005 conviction, erics on who pled guilty in exchange for a 25-year sentence reached out to ryan. Kathleen zelner, an attorney who won many wrongful conviction cases, agreed to take the case pro bono. Charles ericson wanted ryan ready attorneys to meet with him. Reporter: With her camera rolling. Ericson read a statement admitting he had not been truthful in his testimony against ryan. Things happen much differently than I preachously stated. I regret I put an innocent man through that. Ryan got a new court hearing. In april 2012. Ericson testified that he lied about ryan ferguson during his trial. Man, I lied to everybody. Then the janitor, the only other eyewitness to implicate ryan took the stand and admitted that he too had lied at the trial. Convicted sex offend ter, jerry trump said, police pressured him to implicate two young men from a photo. I would like to have forgiveness from ryan. Judge daniel green didn't believe ericson's most reesen recent account. Found there wasn't enough new reliable evidence to overturn the conviction. There is no case in the united states where a person remained incarcerated when the only two witnesses against them have recanted. It is frustrating. We found so much that helps prove my innocence. Last week an appellate court overturned the ruling, quote, newly discovered evidence, clearly, convincingly establish that he is actually innocent. Then today, the missouri attorney general's office announced that they will not retry or pursue further action against ryan ferguson at this time. Meaning, ryan ferguson is a free man. From day one I got arrested ehave been reading, wright, studying, working out, taking care of myself. I am ready for anything really. When we spoke with ryan over a month ago he kau sthusly predict heed would be out by thanksgiving. Just maintain positivity. Hope that one day I wake up and get a good phone call. Reporter: Now that phone call has come. Ryan ferguson is preparing for
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