8th Circuit hears Ryan Ferguson police misconduct appeal

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COLUMBIA - The United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit heard the oral arguments of lawyers for the Columbia Police Department and Ryan Ferguson on Wednesday. Ferguson alleges the Columbia Police Department fabricated evidence in 2001 before Ferguson was found guilty in the murder of Kent Heitholt. Ferguson's sentence was vacated in 2013.

Ferguson said officers and detectives in his case caused his friend Charles Erickson to confess to the murder of Hietholt. Erikson is still in prison.

The Columbia Police Department said all claims against its officers should be dismissed because they have qualified immunity, which means the police do believe if there were any mistakes made during the investigation, they would not have changed the outcome of Ferguson's murder conviction.

Kathleen Zellner, Ferguson's lawyer, said in court on Wednesday the defendants shouldn't be arguing qualified immunity because the defendants did not bring the argument before the lower trial court.

CPD also said it believes all claims against its officers should have been dropped at the trial level because there are no facts in dispute, but Zellner does not agree. Zellner said there are police reports with conflicting information from witnesses.

If the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the trial court decision, the remaining claims will go before a jury in Jefferson City.