(CBS) KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An appeals court has vacated the murder conviction of Ryan Ferguson, the 29-year-old Mo. man imprisoned for nearly a decade for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
It is not clear whether the state will seek to re-try him.
“48 Hours” has covered the case extensively since Ferguson’s 2005 trial and conviction. Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in the 2001 murder of sports editor Kent Heitholt.
The circumstances surrounding Ferguson’s conviction have troubled legal experts. The case was upheld last year despite a lack of physical evidence pointing to Ferguson, and the recantations of both Ferguson’s alleged accomplice and an eyewitness.
Ferguson, his family and thousands of supporters have been anxiously awaiting the appeals court decision.
Heitholt was leaving his office Nov. 1, 2001 when he was beaten and left to die in the parking lot. Ferguson, who was 19 at the time of the crime, wasn’t named as a suspect in the case until early 2004 when his childhood friend, Chuck Erickson, told police he and Ferguson committed the crime.
Four years after Erickson’s confession – which landed both he and Ferguson behind bars – the troubled teen said he lied at Ferguson’s trial and that the two didn’t commit the crime.