COLUMBIA, Mo. • A man whose conviction in a Missouri sports editor’s death hinged on his friend’s dreams and was overturned after he spent nearly a decade in prison has settled a portion of his lawsuit against police.
A federal judge was informed during a teleconference Tuesday that the settlement in Ryan Ferguson’s lawsuit against six members of the Columbia Police Department is awaiting signatures, according to online court records. The records indicate attorneys expect the settlement to be finalized this week or next. No details were disclosed.
Ferguson’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, declined to comment in an email. Brad Letterman, an attorney for the city, didn’t immediately return emails seeking comment.
Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2001 death of Kent Heitholt, who was killed in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Ferguson’s friend, Charles Erickson, started having dreams about Heitholt’s death more than two years after the killing. Ferguson was arrested after Erickson claimed the two participated in the killing.
Ferguson denied involvement and was released in 2013, after an appeals court ruled that he didn’t receive a fair trial because the prosecutor’s office withheld evidence. His lawsuit alleges detectives fabricated evidence, coerced witnesses and failed to investigate other possible suspects.
After his release, Ferguson was tapped for the MTV documentary “Unlocking the Truth.”
Erickson also wants to be released from prison. He told the Columbia Daily Tribune last year that he blacked out from drinking on the night of the killing and that many of the details in his confession came from investigators and news reports.