Ryan FergusonDianne-Frazee Walker
The sentencing amelioration organization, Injustice Anywhere, has created a petition for Bill Ferguson to free his son, Ryan Ferguson. Prior to 2001, Ryan Ferguson had a clean criminal record, but after a jury trial in 2005, Ferguson was convicted of a murder he claims he did not commit.

Ferguson was charged with murdering Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. The only evidence was two eye witnesses that have since admitted in a written affidavit that their testimonies were false. There was no DNA evidence or motive connecting him to the crime. Ferguson is sitting in prison for a crime to which he has no links.

Ryan Ferguson is currently serving a 40 year sentence for a crime he in all probability may not have committed. Chuck Erickson was a key witness that fabricated a story the jury believed. 

Chuck was a high school friend that was with Ryan the evening of the murder.  Ferguson and Erickson were juniors in high school in 2001 at the time of the murder. They snuck into a bar on Halloween night and stayed until 1:15am. According to Ryan, they then left the bar and drove home. Ryan dropped his friend Chuck off at his house then continued on to his house and went to bed.

Two years after the murder, Chuck, who is mentally unstable, claimed he started having dreams about the murder. The foundations of his dreams were related to newspaper articles he read about the murder. Chuck relayed to his friends that memories of the murder were beginning to surface after suppressing them for the last two years. From his dreams, Chuck recollected that he and Ryan ran out of drinking money, so they attempted to rob Heitholt.  The robbery went botch.

Chuck was interrogated by the police for hours in a small room with the police investigator inches from his face. Chuck didn’t recall much about the incident and was not even sure if he and Ryan were involved, but the investigator was relentless in his efforts to get a confession from him. The investigator attempted to supply Chuck information about the crime to force him into confessing his and Ryan’s connection to the murder. Chuck did not know the weapon used to assault Heitholt was his own belt and that he was struck several times. When Chuck failed to give the investigator the information he was fishing for, the intensity of the interrogation escalated. The investigator told Chuck he was “on the chopping block” unless he could recall information about how Ryan was involved in the murder.

There was a second witness to the crime scene, a janitor that originally told police he couldn’t see who was near the victim’s body. Later, in court, the eye witness identified Ryan as the individual he saw near the body. The last statement from the witness was what landed Ryan in prison for 40 years.

Both witnesses now allege they were manipulated into their confessions about Ryan being involved with the crime. Chuck claims the Columbian Police failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The police interrogation video indicates the police investigator spoon fed Chuck the story and scared him into placing Ryan at the crime scene. The prosecutor bribed the other eye witness into changing his testimony by telling him it would be in his best interest to place Ryan at the crime scene.

The most concerning factor of the entire episode is this:  we don’t know how many innocent people are serving most of their lives in prison because of “a few bad apples” that let their egos get in the way of determining who is innocent and who is responsible for a crime. Ryan and Chuck were easy targets for false allegations because they were only 16-years old at the time of the crime in 2001.

Ryan’s father, Bill Ferguson is petitioning to grant his son a retrial.

Go to www. Freeryanferguson.com

Free Ryan Ferguson Face book Page

The petition was created by Injustice Anywhere for Bill Ferguson

The horrendous video of the manipulative interrogation can be viewed at:

https://www.google.com/search?q=chuck+erickson+interrogation+tapes&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS476US495&aq=f&oq=Chuck&aqs=chrome.2.57j0j59l2j61j62.4090j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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