The week long Ryan Ferguson evidentiary hearing that will decide if he gets a new trial ended late this morning. Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for the 2001 murder of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.
The state’s last witness was Korey Iranpour, a high school friend of Charles Erickson. He testified today about the remorse and regret Erikson expressed to him shortly before he was arrested. Erickson’s testimony was crucial to Ferguson’s conviction in 2005. But Erikson has recanted his testimony as well as a Columbia Tribune janitor who identified Erikson and Ferguson as suspects.
The debate during closing arguments was about the two recantations. Ferguson’s attorney Kathleen Zellner argued in her closing argument to Judge Daniel Green that based on case law he only needs to decide if the witnesses who recanted are lying but he does not need to distinguish whether they were lying then or now because that would be for a jury to decide at a new trial. The state refuted that claim saying the judge does need to establish whether the two recantations are credible.
Ryan Ferguson’s father Bill Ferguson says he believes with the new evidence presented the judge will rule in his son’s favor.
“And we are very positive we really believe we are going to get a good hearing. He is upbeat, he’s positive and he knows the truth is going to come out.”
Judge Daniel Green says he will make a decision by mid June after both parties finish filing all of their evidence.