Erickson's New Lawyer Wants Him Released

4 years 2 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, February 06 2014 Feb 6, 2014 Thursday, February 06, 2014 7:38:00 PM CST February 06, 2014 in News
By: Brittany Pieper, KOMU 8 Anchor
loading

COLUMBIA - In November 2013, Ryan Ferguson was released from prison after nearly a decade behind bars. He was 1 of 2 people serving time for the murder of Columbia Tribune Sports Editor, Kent Heitholt. The other man, Charles Erickson, remains in prison, but he has a new lawyer. Laura O'Sullivan, with the Midwest Innocence Project, took the case not long after Ferguson's release, and she hopes to get Erickson released from prison, as well.

"I lied and said I remembered things I didn't remember," said Erickson on the stand at a hearing in April of 2012. He claimed he had previously given a false confession when he told police he and Ryan Ferguson had killed Heitholt.

Erickson and Tribune janitor Jerry Trump changing their story were two major developments in the case, but their testimony is not what ultimately led to Ferguson's release from prison. The court found the prosecution withheld evidence, and that vacated the conviction. O'Sullivan thinks key information was also withheld from Erickson.

"Those very same things are the things that went wrong with Charles," O'Sullivan said. "Information that should have been turned over that wasn't turned over."

According to O'Sullivan, similar circumstances led to 4 of the 6 overturned convictions in Missouri last year. "Violations where the prosecution or police were required to turn over information and did not, so that's really concerning," she said.

O'Sullivan would not let KOMU 8 News interview Erickson, but she did discuss what comes next. "Reviewing documents, investigation, consulting with experts, and visiting Charles and getting to know him a little bit better, too."

O'Sullivan hopes to have some sort of motion filed within the year. She says she realizes while Ferguson and Erickson served time for the same crime, the cases are different. Ferguson always maintained his innocence. Erickson did not. He pleaded guilty and told police he and Ferguson had committed the murder.

However, O'Sullivan claims false confessions are more common than most people think.

"People confess to crimes thinking that maybe they can clear it all up once they get out of the room," she said. "Once they get out of the room with the police they can clear it up, so there's a variety of reasons why people give confessions, give statements that are false."

In the 2012 hearing, Erickson told the court he gave a false confession because he was scared.

"I said look man, I don't know," Erickson said. "They started telling me well we're gonna put your head on the chopping block. Which to me basically tells me I'm gonna be executed."

"Charles did not get a fair shake in the system in the same way that Ryan did not get a fair shake, and as Ryan is getting out of prison his call to the public and his call to action was let's not leave Charles behind," said O'Sullivan.

Kent Heitholt's daughter did not wish to comment on recent developments in the case. At this time, Columbia Police Department detectives are reviewing more than 400 police reports connected to the case, but it's still considered cleared.

"We still made 2 arrests, so that clears the case," Sgt. Joe Bernhard said. "Whether the convictions further on down the line- when we clear a case it's because there's an arrest or an exception."

For more information on the Midwest innocence project, click here.

To visit the Free Charles Erickson Facebook page, click here.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council met Monday night in a work session to discuss ways to improve Columbia's water... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 8:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Hundreds gathered at the first ever Japanese Spring Festival on MU’s campus Monday afternoon. Student Momoko Tamamura came... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY – One local woman is reflecting on her decision to vote for President Donald Trump after some have... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The law firm representing the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Missouri... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:45:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Democratic Missouri state lawmaker says he won't step down despite facing backlash for repeatedly calling... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:21:20 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - MU staff members spent Monday afternoon discussing how the university could become Columbia's "employer of choice" again with... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:05:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Residents moving into the Lynn Street Cottages in Columbia not only obtain four new walls, they also receive... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:14:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Students at Rock Bridge High School will be attending prom this weekend, and for the first time ever,... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:13:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JOPLIN - An EF-5 tornado struck the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011. The next day Jeff Neal, a... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 3:29:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Tax reform in Missouri is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Missouri House Ways... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:56:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JOPLIN - More businesses, new schools and new homes- one drive through Joplin reveals a clear transformation from devastation to... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Lawmakers in Missouri added a $3 million dollar line to the Attorney General’s budget for sexual assault... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:11:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on shooting at Tennessee restaurant that left four dead (all times local):... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 1:22:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - When it comes to losing weight, many of us start with looking at our diet. Are we eating... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 12:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Weekly Wellness
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens say they will seek to disqualify prosecutors in the... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:37:40 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Only one week old, Molly was outside in the snow and sleet. She was found in a... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:14:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A former volunteer at a small Missouri museum has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars' worth... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:04:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA -Bullets hit a Columbia residence early Sunday morning while five people were inside. It happened just after 4... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 9:59:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 51°
6am 50°
7am 51°
8am 53°
9am 55°