Ryan Ferguson\'s Evidentiary Hearing Begins

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COLE COUNTY - Two additional witnesses testified in an evidentiary hearing Monday afternoon for Ryan Ferguson, just hours after a key witness in the murder of Kent Heitholt stood by the recantation of his 2005 testimony. 

Steven Kirby, a private investigator for Ryan Ferguson, testified after the lunch recess. He said his review determined Jerry Trump, a janitor at the scene in 2001, could not have made a positive identification of Ferguson because of the logistics of the scene (In 2005, Trump's identification of Ferguson helped lead to his conviction, but he has since then reversed that testimony).

When Kirby took the witness stand, he provided a diagram and a photo of the Columbia Daily Tribune offices. His investigation included a photo taken of a person standing where Heitholt was found. Kirby took the photo from what would have been Trump's perspective. He said judging by his investigation, it would not have been possible for Trump to identify anyone from 75 to 100 feet away.

When the state questioned Kirby, assistant attorney general Ted Bruce immediately asked him why the picture looked out of focus. As Bruce continued his cross-examination, he questioned Kirby's intentions as a representative of the Ferguson camp. The issue centered on whether Trump was responsible for his own affidavit.

"It wasn't [Trump's] idea [to recant], it was your idea?" Bruce said, to which Kirby responded it was a collaborative effort. 

Kirby said he has met Trump on six occasions, adding that Trump threw his business card on the ground during the first encounter in August 2010. During the morning testimony, Trump admitted on video he did not want to talk to Kirby originally. But he said after a few meetings with Kirby, he decided to recant the 2005 testimony.

"Jerry Trump created the affidavit," Kirby said. "I just wrote them up."

Joseph Buckley

A self-proclaimed Defense of Deception Examiner, Buckley took the witness stand despite an objection from the state. Bruce argued Buckley's new expert testimony was "improper" for a post-conviction proceeding. Ferguson's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, argued Buckley represented a new perspective as an expert on interrogation.

Buckley testified about the interrogation of Charles Erickson, who originally told police he killed Heitholt along with Ferguson. Erickson has since recanted his testimony against Ferguson. 

"Investigators did not develop any corroborating information from Erickson that could be used to establish the trustworthiness of his confession," Buckley said.