(CBS) KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The father of Ryan Ferguson, a 28-year-old Missouri man serving 40 years in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit, says the "truth is coming out after 10 years," the Columbia Missourian reports.
Lawyers for Ferguson made oral arguments Tuesday in a Kansas City appeals court rebutting his conviction in the 2001 death of newspaper editor Kent Heitholt and now judges are weighing whether Ferguson should be granted a new trial.
According to a post on the "Free Ryan Ferguson" Facebook page, a decision from the judges likely won't be announced for several weeks.
The post says Tuesday's hearing went "extremely well" and that both the Ferguson family and Ferguson's lead attorney, Kathleen Zellner, are "feeling optimistic that the judges will rule in Ryan's favor."
"I think it's a bad day for the attorney general and a good day for Ryan," Bill Ferguson told the paper following the hearing. "The truth is coming out after 10 years; it's taken way too long."
Ryan Ferguson was not present for the hearing.
KMBC-TV reports much of the hearing focused on alleged Brady violations, which means the prosecution withheld information from the defense. Ferguson's legal team argued that the state withheld crucial information pertaining to the case. In particular, they say information was withheld regarding how Jerry Trump, a crucial eyewitness, identified Ferguson as one of two men he saw standing in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune building the night Heitholt was killed.
Zellner argued that the prosecution elicited a biased identification by showing Trump a mugshot of Ferguson, the Columbia Missourian reports.
Trump testified during Ferguson's 2005 trial that he saw Ferguson at the crime scene. Five years after Ferguson's second-degree murder conviction, Trump recanted his testimony, admitting he lied.
"Jerry Trump was material," Zellner told the paper Tuesday. "He was the key to the conviction, so if the defense had had the Brady information, they would have impeached him, and the jury never would have believed the newspaper stories."
Heitholt was leaving his office Nov. 1, 2001 when he was brutally battered, beaten and left to die in the parking lot. Ferguson, who was 19 at the time of the crime, wasn't named a suspect in the case until early 2004 when his childhood friend, Chuck Erickson, was questioned by police. Erickson had been telling friends that he had suddenly "dreamed" that he and Ferguson had killed Heitholt after drinking and reveling on Halloween night, but he could not remember any details.
Four years after Erickson's confession to the crime which landed both he and Ferguson behind bars, the troubled teen, who was also a drug addict at the time of the murder, said he lied at Ferguson's trial and that the two didn't commit the crime.
"I don't want to die knowing, you know, this guy is still in prison because of something I said," Erickson said in an interview with.
Even after these two key recantations, so far, no appeal has been granted in the case despite multiple attempts at an appeal.
"He should be freed because he's innocent," Bill Ferguson said Tuesday, according to KMBC-TV. "He's innocent because there's no evidence to convict him of the crime. There are no witnesses to put him at the crime. There's nothing, not one scintilla of evidence, to put him at the crime."