Chuck Erickson Takes the Stand in Ferguson Hearing
COLE COUNTY - Chuck Erickson, who told police in 2004 that he and Ryan Ferguson murdered Kent Heitholt, took the stand in the third day of Ferguson's evidentiary hearing.
Erickson walked in wearing shackles. He now has a short buzz cut and wears glasses. When Erickson walked into the room, Ferguson looked back at his father and sister.
The defense attorney began asking Erickson about his childhood, simple questions, like where he grew up. Zellner quickly began asking him about his drug use at the time of Heitholt's murder. Erickson said he was using cocaine, Adderall and marijuana.
Erickson said on the night of the murder he had been using cocaine and Adderall while drinking alcohol.
Erickson said he doesn't remember when his last memory of the night took place. He has no memory of leaving the By George Nightclub, or the rest of the night.
Zellner asked Erickson if he noticed anything out of the ordinary when he woke up the next morning. Erickson answered no. He said he noticed no injuries, no blood on his clothing and had no thought that he might have killed anyone.
Erickson said a few days later, he mentioned the murder to Ferguson. At the time, he had no thought that he was involved in the crime.
"It was crazy that someone had been murdered a couple blocks away from where we had been partying," said Erickson.
Eventually, Erickson said it began to bother him that he couldn't remember the night of the murder. In "2003-2004" Erickson said he had a conversation with Ferguson to see if he had been involved in the murder.
"I think that he thought I was joking at first," said Erickson.
Erickson said Ferguson told him they were not involved in the murder, and that he was "tripping." Erickson had been using cocaine the night of the conversation.
After conversations with two friends about his concern that he might be involved in the murder, Erickson decided to go forward. Erickson had heard there was DNA at the scene, and wanted to see if his DNA matched.
The court watched an interrogation video of Erickson, while Erickson sat with his head down and arms folded. Erickson never looked at the screen. Ferguson looked back and forth directly at Erickson and then the video.
After the interrogation, Zellner asked if the details he had provided about Ryan were true or false. Erickson said they were false.
"I felt I needed to give him a story that didn't have me as a main perpetrator, I guess," said Erickson. "I didn't want to be the one who actually killed this guy."
Zellner asked why he made up the false details. Erickson said he told investigators what they wanted to hear.
"It was easy, they couldn't prove anything so I just made stuff up," said Erickson.
Zellner gave a series of Erickson's 2004 statements and asked if they were true or false. Erickson answered "false" to every one.
Erickson said he did not actually remember robbing and beating Heitholt, Ferguson robbing or strangling Heitholt, going back to the By George Nightclub after the murder or seeing a cleaning lady in the Tribune parking lot.