JEFFERSON CITY - KOMU 8 News learned Friday Attorney General Chris Koster is asking for more time to explain to the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals why it should deny a writ of habeas corpus for convicted murderer Ryan Ferguson. The court originally gave Koster a deadline of May 10 to give his explanation. Its request came after Koster's statement to the court in March saying Ferguson's latest appeal should be denied.
A representative from the appellate court said Koster made a request Thursday afternoon for a 10-day extension. The representative said the court would most likely decide whether or not to grant the extension by May 16 or 17. Koster's press secretary, Nancy Gonder, said the extension request was due to a work load issue.
Bill Ferguson, the convicted murderer's father, issued the petition for habeas corpus on Jan. 30 in hopes of getting his son a new trial for the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt. He said his petition claimed there had been several errors in Ferguson's 2005 trial, including the jury selection process and two witness recantations since the trial.
Bill Ferguson said the fact that the court asked Koster for more explanation of why it should deny the appeal is some of the most encouraging news he has gotten so far.
In Koster's request in March to deny the appeal, he wrote that the Cole County Circuit Court found that there was no new evidence found in the case at an April 2012 evidentiary hearing.
But Bill Ferguson said he and his son are staying positive. He said he expects the court of appeals will review the case and set a hearing by August, despite Koster's request.
Ryan Ferguson is currently in the Jefferson City Correctional Center serving his 40-year sentence for the 2001 murder.
Bill Ferguson said he has spent around $200,000 on his son's appeal, including the billboards he put up in November 2012 asking for information about the case, and offering a reward for new information that could help Ryan Ferguson's appeal.