Ryan Ferguson Appeals Murder Conviction

The Missouri man convicted of killing a journalist fights for his freedom in appeals court.
3:52 | 09/10/13

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Transcript for Ryan Ferguson Appeals Murder Conviction
We have the latest chapter for a man convicted of killing a journalist a decade ago. He is serving 40 years. But since his conviction, his case has been falling apart. Alex perez has the story. Reporter: After nine years behind bars for a murder he says he didn't commit, this morning, ryan ferguson could be on the brink of freedom. The verdict was based on innuendos and a great performance by the prosecutor. But nothing based on evidence. Reporter: After years of legal back and forth, the missouri appellate court has agreed to hear ferguson's case today. Ferguson's father, bill, has been fighting to free his son, since his 2005 conviction in colombia, missouri. That is the most shocking experience I've had in my entire life. Reporter: At 19 years old, ferguson, and his friend, erickson, was charged with robbing and killing newspaper editor, kent hightold, and saying that they killed him together. Reporter: Ferguson was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery and sentenced to 40 years. But hair, blood and fingerprints found at the crime scene didn't match ferguson. And now, erickson has recanted his testimony, telling "48 hours" he made the whole thing up. I don't want to die knowing this guy is still in prison because of something I said. Reporter: Even a janitor who testified he saw ferguson at the scene, has taken it back. This is a case that was built on the testimony of two eyewitnesses. And they both admitted they committed perjury at ryan ferguson's trial. So, there's no evidence left. Reporter: Ferguson's fate rests in the hands of three appella appellate judges that could decide to release him in a few weeks. We're going to bring dan abrams back in with us right now. When people see this piece and hear this information, how can the judge not grant a new trial? What this judge says, he still believes that the first account of one of the key witnesses was credible. This went to the appellate court. The appellate court said, let's send it back to review the evidence. And this judge would say, we have to presume what a jury heard should generally be the final word. Now, there are extraordinary cases. And I would argue this is getting pretty close to that line of being an extraordinary case. You have really no evidence linking him, apart from these two key witnesses. Both of whom aren't just recanting. They're basically testifying that they perjured themselves. They were under oath. Which is -- makes this a lot different. So, now, the case is going back to the appellate court. And it's going to be interesting because this appellate court has sent it back once to review the evidence. Now, a judge reviewed it. Said don't think there's enough for a new trial. Now, it's going to be a question, is the appellate court going to order a new trial? If they order a new trial, there is no evidence. I think it's a close case for them because they previously punted on this. They previously sent it back. They have to now say, all right, yes, we sent it back. But we just feel there isn't anything there. Almost be changing their minds, a little bit. But in a case like this, I think that you have to err on the side of a new trial, with absolutely no evidence currently standing. Even jurors from the first trial are saying, a new one. Powerful but not an important lead. All right, dan. We're going to turn, now, to

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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