So a guy has weird and inconsistent dreams that convinces him he is a killer, and he takes his friend down with him. There is NO DNA evidence that connected either one of them to the crime, and Ryan himself had never been in trouble for anything before. One of the janitors that was there that night initially claimed that he could not identify anyone at the scene, yet all of a sudden in court was able to identify and point directly at Ryan. After 5 days the jury returned a verdict of guilty to robbery and second degree murder, and Ryan was sentenced to 40 years in prison. FORTY YEARS! No DNA, no evidence, no motive. Just one messed up druggie's claim of dreams, and a 19 year old is sentenced to 40 years in prison. That is a terrifying reality, which could easily happen to any of us. Click HERE to read some facts of the crime, murder scene and investigation. Its astounding to me this kid was convicted.
Last year Chuck Erickson admitted he lied under oath at Ryan's trial. And in an even bigger twist, the janitor who couldn't--and then could--identify Ryan admitted he also lied at the trial. He claims the prosecutor encouraged him to place Ryan at the scene of the crime, and intimidated him into changing his story.
Last week an appeals court threw out Ryan's conviction, and on Tuesday morning after 9 years and 8 months, Ryan Ferguson walked out of prison and is finally a free man. He is now 29 years old. 10 years he sat in a prison for a crime he didn't commit. I cannot imagine what that could feel like. Being taken from your life, locked away in a cold cell, living with legit murderers and other horrific criminals...yet all the while knowing you were innocent. Thank God justice was served for him. I won't bore you to death with every detail of the crime and his arrest and everything else that has happened. If you are interested, I encourage you to go to THIS website where you can read all about it.
There is a sadness for the friends and family of Kent Heitholt who now are left with so many unanswered questions. Who killed Kent? Will that person ever be found? So many questions as to why fingerprints, shoe prints, DNA, and hair somehow never led to a suspect. Now that Ryan has his life back and his family has closure, I hope and pray Kent Heitholt's family will get the same some day.
Today though, Ryan is free...and a young man who had his entire 20's taken from him will try to move on and build the life he wasn't able to for the last 10 years.
Makes you wonder how many people are sitting in prisons tonight who are innocent. People who are victims of circumstance and lies.