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Ryan Ferguson Update: Mo. man serving time for murder to appear in appeals court

Ryan Ferguson is serving 40 years for murder. Now his accuser says it was all a lie. Can "48 Hours" help him get his life back? Erin Moriarty reports.

The Accuser
Ryan Ferguson
CBS
(CBS) KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Ryan Ferguson, a 28-year-old Missouri man currently serving 40 years in prison for a 2001 murder he says he didn't commit, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday along with his legal team who will make oral arguments rebutting his conviction.

PICTURES: Inside the Ryan Ferguson case

WATCH: 48 Hours' coverage of the Ryan Ferguson case: "The Accuser"

The hearing will be held at 2p.m. central time in the Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City.

During the hearing, attorneys will get 15 minutes to argue Ferguson's case, Bill Ferguson, Ryan's father, told CBS affiliate KRCG. Then, the State's attorneys will get 15 minutes. The case will end with a five minute rebuttal from Ryan's team.

The hearing is the result of Ferguson's legal team, led by Kathleen Zellner, filing a Writ of Habeas Corpus in January 2013.

READ: Delayed Justice for Missouri man?

Ferguson was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery in 2005 in the Nov. 1, 2001 death of newspaper editor Kent Heitholt. Heitholt was leaving his office 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.

While there was plenty of physical evidence left at the scene of the murder, none of that evidence connected either Ferguson or Erickson to the crime. However, Erickson's testimony was still considered crucial and he ultimately became the star witness at Ferguson's trial. Following Ferguson's conviction, his family has been in and out of court trying to overturn the ruling.

Four years after Erickson's confession to the crime and his testimony against Ferguson which landed him behind bars, the troubled teen, who was also a drug addict at the time of the murder, recanted and claimed he lied at trial.

In April 2012, Jerry Trump, another key witness who testified that he saw Ferguson at the crime scene, came to court and admitted that he too lied at trial.

Even after these two key recantations, so far, no appeal has been granted in the case.

Depending on the results of Tuesday's hearing, Ferguson could reportedly be released from prison within a few weeks.

Complete coverage of the Ryan Ferguson case on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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