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Ryan Ferguson's attorney files $100 million lawsuit

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 10:45 AM EDT, Tue March 11, 2014
  • Ryan Ferguson spent nearly 10 years in prison
  • 13 defendants are named in $100 million lawsuit
  • Suit alleges suppression and fabrication of evidence
  • Missouri attorney general didn't retry Ferguson

(CNN) -- Ryan Ferguson was freed last year after serving nearly 10 years for a murder he said he didn't commit. Now, an attorney for Ferguson has filed a $100 million lawsuit for violations of his civil rights.

The suit, filed Monday, names 13 defendants including the city of Columbia, Missouri, the city police department, investigators, the prosecutor's office and others. It alleges nine separate counts including suppression and fabrication of evidence, failure to investigate, malicious prosecution, conspiracy to deprive Ferguson of his constitutional rights, defamation and false arrest.

"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," the lawsuit says. "Compounding this tragedy, the real murderer of Kent Heitholt has escaped arrest, prosecution, and conviction for 13 years because of Ryan's wrongful arrest, prosecution, and conviction."

Ryan Ferguson is now a free man

Ferguson was just a teenager when he was arrested in Missouri in 2004, accused of killing Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt three years earlier.

Implicated by a former friend who said he had dreamlike memories of committing the crime, Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for Heitholt's murder and given a 40-year sentence.

In 2012, the same friend admitted in court that he lied, as did a janitor who originally placed Ferguson at the crime scene.

Ferguson's legal team successfully argued last fall that prosecutors illegally withheld evidence that could have cleared his name, overturning his conviction.

The Jefferson City Correctional Center released Ferguson in November after Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he wouldn't retry Ferguson.

CNN's David Mattingly and Tristan Smith contributed to this report.

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