Missouri Attorney General: We Won't Re-Try Ryan Ferguson

By: CBS (posted by Josh Mabry)
By: CBS (posted by Josh Mabry)

(CBS) -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has announced that his office will not re-try Ryan Ferguson, 29, who has been jailed for nearly a decade for a murder Ferguson says he didn't commit. The decision means Ferguson could soon be released from prison.

WATCH: 48 Hours' coverage of the Ryan Ferguson case: "The Accuser"
READ: If Ryan Ferguson gets out, what happens to his accuser?

Last week, an appeals court threw out Ferguson's 2005 conviction in the killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Ferguson's family, friends and thousands of supporters - who have always maintained his innocence - had eagerly anticipated the ruling.

The appeals court ruled that Boone County prosecutors violated federal law by failing to share several pieces of evidence with Ferguson's defense team during his trial, reports the Columbia Daily Tribune.

A special prosecutor had been appointed to determine whether Ferguson should be re-tried, reports the paper. But according to Tuesday afternoon's decision, "The Attorney General's office will not re-try or pursue further action against Ryan Ferguson at this time."

Ferguson was arrested for Heitholt's 2001 murder in 2004 after a friend, Chuck Erickson, told police he and Ferguson committed the crime. But Erickson struggled with important details when being interrogated by police, and later recanted his trial testimony. An eyewitness who testified that he saw Ferguson at the scene also later recanted.

Hair, fingerprints and bloody footprints were found at the scene, but none of them pointed to Ferguson.

"48 Hours" has covered Ferguson's case extensively. Correspondent Erin Moriarty interviewed Ferguson in prison hours after his conviction was vacated last week.

"I know what it is to be a teenager, I don't know what it is to be an adult in the real world, as nearly a 30-year-old," Ferguson said. "I look forward to finding myself out and learning what it is I enjoy and what I love about life and finding what my passion is and acting on it."

Ferguson said he felt "overwhelmed" after learning his conviction had been thrown out, but said, "even though I feel like we crossed a huge hurdle, I don't feel like I have my life back."

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