Ryan Ferguson should remain in prison because he didn't prove his "actual innocence" in the killing of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt, 11 years ago tonight, Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled this afternoon.
In a 40-page ruling, Green said Ferguson did show, successfully, that witness Jerry Trump's "recantation is credible and true - as to his falsely identifying (Ferguson); but not credible and false as to the reason for his perjury being the actions of (former Prosecutor) Kevin Crane and the State."
But Green rejected Ferguson's claim that co-defendant Charles Erickson's recantation had any weight.
Green noted that Erickson's "recantation" in 2011, prompting Ferguson's attorneys to file his petition for release from prison or a new trial, "was significantly different from his recantation at the April 2012 hearing."
Green ruled that Erickson's recantation of his original testimony that Ferguson helped kill Heitholt was "not credible and (was) false."
Erickson pleaded guilty to the murder in 2004, and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.
He then testified against Ferguson in an October 2005 trial in Boone County. Based on the jury's conviction of second-degree murder, Ferguson is serving a 40-year prison term at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Both men were 17 when Heitholt was killed.
Ferguson now is 28.
Heitholt's body was found on the ground, next to his car in the Columbia Tribune's parking lot, about 2:25 a.m. Nov. 1, 2001.
Investigators said he had been beaten, and strangled with his own belt.
Read additional details about this ruling in our newspaper or e-Edition for Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.