Public Reacts to Court Overturning Ferguson Conviction

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals vacated Ryan Ferguson's conviction in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports writer Kent Heitholt on Tuesday. Soon after the opinion was released, community members reacted about the court's decision.

RE/MAX Boone Realty Realtor Becky Sterling said she is ecstatic Ferguson may be a free man soon. She knows the family personally as Ryan's father, Bill Ferguson, works as a realtor in the same building. She said she has been so impressed with the family's strength over the years.

"There were so many questions and I watched this family just come together and fight like no one I've ever seen and never give up and totally believed in Ryan," Sterling said.

Sterling said she believes Ferguson is completely innocent because no evidence proved anything against him. She said the court needs to give his life back because he has lost ten years.

"They need to get him out today," Sterling said.

Columbia resident Guy Long said he attended most of the trial.

"The evidence was just so flawed in the way it was presented was again back to very human error of emotional appeals to a jury," Long said.

One woman who wished to be unidentified said she was at the scene of the crime just hours before it happened in 2001. She said since the murder she has been scared of the area and walking there late at night.

"I really don't have too much of an opinion about him being released..., I just wish they find the person who did the murder," the unidentified source said.

Ferguson will not be released from prison for another 15 days. If the State refiles charges against Ferguson in that time, then he will remain in custody and transferred to the Boone County Jail to await trial.