COLUMBIA - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals published an opinion on the Ryan Ferguson case Tuesday, ordering Ferguson's convictions to be vacated, meaning he could be released from the state's custody in two weeks if the state does not refile charges.
In September, Ferguson had a hearing in front of the court of appeals where Ferguson's lawyer argued information that could have helped Ferguson in the original, 2004 trial was not given to the defense.
The opinion from the court reads: "Ferguson's request for habeas corpus relief is granted. Ferguson's convictions are vacated. Ferguson is ordered discharged from the State's custody."
But that does not mean Ferguson will walk free immediately. The state now has 15 days to decide whether to refile charges against Ferguson. If it does so within that time, Ferguson will move back to the Boone County Jail to await trial. But if prosecutors do not charge Ferguson again, he will go free.
Ferguson was convicted of the 2001 murder of Kent Heitholt outside the Columbia Tribune. Jerry Trump, a janitor at the building, testified in the original trial that he saw Ferguson at the scene of the murder, but later admitted he lied and did not actually see Ferguson.
At the appeal, Ferguson's lawyer argued an interview with Trump's wife, Barbara, conducted by the state, was not shared with the defense. Withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense is unconstitutional and referred to as a Brady Violation.
Read the full opinion of the court here: