Attorney for Ryan Ferguson files civil suit for $100 million

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(KTVI)– Ten years to the day of Ryan Ferguson’s arrest for murder of Columbia Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt, his attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a civil lawsuit Monday, naming former Boone County Prosecutor and now Judge Kevin Crane as well as former Columbia, Missouri Police Chief Randy Boehm.

Ryan spent 9 years, 8 months and 2 days behind bars for a murder he did not commit.  He was released from prison on November 12, 2013.

Other defendants include several Columbia Police Department detectives, investigators in the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as well as the city of Columbia and Boone County.

The lawsuit reads in part: “On November 12, 2013 Ryan was freed and all charges against him were dismissed.  He rejoins society after being immersed in the ugly reality of prison life for a decade, knowing the whole time he was innocent.  Ryan’s new identity upon walking out of prison is that of a 29 year old uneducated, jobless man without healthcare or funds for psychological counseling.  For years he was branded as a brutal murderer and those scars cannot be excised.  Not only has he not received an apology from the State of Missouri or Boone County, but some of these officials continue to defame him.  Compounding this tragedy, the real murderer of Ken Heitholt has escaped arrest, prosecution, and conviction for 13 years because of Ryan’s wrongful arrest, prosecution, and conviction.”

The lawsuit also contains Ryan’s words before his sentencing on December 5, 2005.   He told the court, “I really wanted to say that today is a sad day, because the justice system has failed not only my family and me, but the Heitholt’s and community.  It has failed because they’re sending an innocent man to jail.  Because they’re letting a horrible person run free, without a care.  They don’t have to worry about the police looking for them.  I can’t understand that.  I don’t see how Crane can live with himself with that.  But some day the truth will come out and everyone will see that I am innocent, and I will be free.  And that will be a great day, because on that day the justice system will finally have done justice.”

The lawsuit seeks a total of $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Ferguson Complaint

Related Stories:

Exclusive Interview: Ryan Ferguson talks about being a free man

Ryan Ferguson celebrates Thanksgiving, new start

Ryan Ferguson spends his first day out of prison

Ryan Ferguson released from prison


  • JD

    Don’t you realize who will indeed pay should he win the suit?? Taxpayers!! While I agree it is a horrible thing, the suit ahould be directed only at the individuals Ryan believes are responsible & not the city or police department in totality.

    • Rodney Mcvey

      It was twelve taxpayer’s that judged him guilty when they agreed with the prosecutor’s lies. I followed this particular trial. There simply wasn’t enough evidence to convict Ryan. A dream of a friend that made him “think” they committed murder is not evidence. Tax paying jurors need to take their responsibility to heart, and hold the state to their constitutional burden of proof. These twelve taxpayer’s let the rest of the Missouri taxpayer’s down, and now they owe Ryan. All jurors come to desire to have their own constitutional rights if they are ever found to be sitting in the defendant’s chair. I’m sure Ryan never dreamed he would be there. Especially knowing he had not committed a crime. But he was!

  • sharon

    Prosecuting Attorney who is now a Judge???? Good Grief!!!! Did he get to that office while climbing on the likes of Ryan Ferguson? Sort of reminds me of the Old West where gunfighters knotched their guns with each person that they killed, in order to gain a name for themselves. How sad. I know of another Prosecuting Attorney who is trying to make a name for themselves doing the same thing. Beware.

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