COLUMBIA, Mo. - The attorney for a man wrongly convicted in the 2001 slaying of a Missouri sports editor filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $100 million for her client on Monday.
The attorney for 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson, Kathleen Zellner, alleges fabricated evidence in the case and the lack of a complete police investigation into the 2001 killing of Kent Heitholt in the 50-page complaint, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Heitholt was a sports editor for the paper.
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Ferguson was arrested in 2004 for Heitholt's murder after a friend, Chuck Erickson, confessed that they committed the crime together. However, Erickson later recanted his testimony, as did an eyewitness who had reported seeing Ferguson at the scene.
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Hair, fingerprints and bloody footprints were all found at the crime scene, but none of them pointed to Ferguson, who was convicted and jailed for nearly a decade.
The lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The newspaper reports that the suit asks for actual damages of $75 million and compensatory damages of $25 million.
The Tribune reports that Zellner also demands a jury trial and names a total of 13 defendants, including the City of Columbia, the Columbia Police Department and Boone County.