COLUMBIA, Mo. - Just minutes after being released from prison, Ryan Ferguson held a press conference Tuesday evening to thanks his supporters.
Earlier Tuesday, the Missouri Attorney General confirmed he would not retry Ferguson. Attorney General Chris Koster announced he will not retry or seek further legal action against him at this time.
After Ferguson was transferred from the Jefferson City Correctional Center to the Boone County Jail, he was released to his parents, Bill and Leslie Ferguson. The Fergusons and his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, then held a press conference at the Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia.
At the conference, Zellner and Ferguson told the crowd of more than 100 people that they were thrilled to be there, but had their doubts this moment would happen.
"Having gone through what I've gone through with our justice system, I didn't know if I'd be here tonight," said Ferguson.
He repeatedly thanked his family, friends and Zellner for their support over the last several years. Ferguson had been incarcerated since his arrest in 2004 for the Halloween night 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.
"To get out of prison, it takes an incredible group of people," said Ferguson. "Without family and Kathleen Zellner and associates, we would not be here today."
He also thanked Attorney General Chris Koster for "looking at the facts" and the judges for "ruling on the facts" of the case, allowing his convictions to be thrown out on Nov. 5.
Speaking about the case and his friend Charles Erickson, who was also convicted of Heitholt's murder, Ferguson said he believes Erickson is innocent.
"He's been victimized, he's an innocent man in prison," said Ferguson. "He is not a killer. He doesn't belong in prison."
Erickson recanted his testimony against Ferguson, but is still in prison.
Ferguson also said his wrongful conviction is not the only one.
"This is not an anomaly," he said. "We should look at other cases. There are other innocent people."
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