Charles Erickson seeks release from prison for Kent Heitholt murder
BOWLING GREEN - Charles Erickson, who is serving time in prison for the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, says his detention is unlawful and he should be set free.
Erickson filed a petition on December 11 in Pike County, where he is being held at the Northeast Correctional Center, seeking a writ of habeas corpus, a legal method to determine whether detainment is lawful or not. He was convicted in 2004 for Heitholt's murder, along with Ryan Ferguson. Ferguson's conviction was later vacated in 2013.
The 98-page petition claims Erickson's "frailties and experiences" made him susceptible to coercion by Columbia Police, who the petition claims got Erickson to falsely confess and plead guilty.
"Now after almost fifteen years in prison, Charles seeks the same justice as Ryan [Ferguson] and petitions this court for a Writ of Habeas Corpus," the petition said.
It continues: "The only reason Charles became, and now remains, incarcerated is that aggressive police and prosecutors exploited his vulnerabilities, including his past experiences, psychological disorders, youth, cognitive dysfunction, and substance abuse, to coerce Charles to confess and plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. Some of the methods they used included: wrongfully withholding exculpatory evidence, unlawfully fabricating evidence they would use to deceive Charles into falsely believing he committed crimes, and applying unconstitutional pressure that deprived him of the volition and knowledge necessary to offer a constitutionally adequate guilty plea."
The petition concludes Erickson deserves habeas corpus relief to fix the injustice of his wrongful detention due to "a defective guilty plea," and claims Erickson is innocent of the crimes for which he is serving prison time.