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Ryan Ferguson freed from prison

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:55:07 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 13 2013 07:13:58 AM CST

Ryan Ferguson is waking up a free man this morning after an appeals court orders his release from prison.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -

Ryan Ferguson, a Columbia man imprisoned 10 years for murder and robbery, was released from prison Tuesday.

The Missouri Attorney General confirmed Tuesday he will not seek a retrial of 29-yea-rold Ferguson. Attorney General Chris Koster announced he will not retry or seek further legal action against Ferguson.

Koster said in a statement: "After studying the appellate court's opinion in Ferguson v. Dormire and carefully reviewing the remaining known evidence in the case, the Attorney General's office will not retry or pursue further action against Ryan Ferguson at this time."

Documents obtained by ABC 17 News state the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ordered Ferguson's immediate release from the Department of Corrections.

Ferguson was transferred from the Jefferson City Correctional Center to the custody of Boone County, where the circuit court approved his release. According to court rules, the Department of Corrections had to deliver Ferguson to Boone County Circuit Court as a "pretrial detainee." The court then had to sign off on his release.

Around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Missouri Attorney General's Office filed an order with the Boone County Circuit Court stating that Koster will not retry Ferguson. The order meant Ferguson could be released immediately once a Boone County judge signed off on the order.

Ferguson was transported to the Boone County Jail temporarily and was released from custody just before 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Ferguson, his parents, and his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, then moved to the Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia where they addressed the media and supporters at a press conference.

In 2004, Ferguson was convicted of killing Columbia Sports Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt on Halloween night 2001. Despite his conviction, he has maintained his innocence.

Last week, the Western District Court of Appeals overturned Ferguson's murder and robbery convictions. The appeals panel said the prosecutor's office had withheld evidence from defense attorneys and that Ferguson did not receive a fair trial.

Stay with ABC 17 News and abc17news.com for more on this developing story.

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