A Missouri man who has been in prison for the last 10 years had his murder conviction vacated this morning, due, in part, to aggressive reporting by CBS’s “48 Hours.”
Ryan Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2001 murder of newspaper sports editor Kent Heitholt. Ferguson’s case was first featured on the CBS News magazine eight years ago. Correspondent Erin Moriarty has updated the story twice since then.
Moriarty reported that hair, fingerprints and bloody footprints found at the scene were not linked to Ferguson. After that report new witnesses came forward and Ferguson got a new attorney — who joined pro bono after seeing his story on CBS.
“I almost know, almost certainly, that if you had not covered the trial a lot of the facts would remain probably hidden,” Ferguson recently told Moriarty. “And I think that was very beneficial to us in having somebody actually look at the reality of this case in a non-biased manner and – and look at both sides equally.”
“Dateline NBC” has also been invested in Ferguson’s story. “Dateline” aired a 2-hour special in August, 2011 and another follow-up report in November, 2012. NBC’s producer is in Missouri now working on the latest.