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Missouri man freed; no retrial in murder case

| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A Missouri man whose conviction in the killing of a newspaper sports editor was overturned was freed from custody on Tuesday because the state attorney general said he would not hold a new trial.

Ryan Ferguson was released from a state prison in Jefferson City and taken to the Boone County Jail in Columbia, which freed him shortly before 6 p.m. local time. He had been imprisoned since 2005.

Ferguson, 29, waved to a crowd of cheering supporters from the back seat of his father's car on the way to a news conference.

A Missouri appeals court last week overturned Ferguson's conviction and 40-year prison sentence in the 2001 strangling and beating death of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Ferguson was 17 at the time of the killing, in which a high school classmate implicated him.

The appeals panel said the prosecutor's office had withheld evidence from defense attorneys, and Ferguson did not receive a fair trial.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office said in a written statement that it had carefully reviewed the remaining evidence and decided not to retry or pursue further legal action against Ferguson at this time. Koster's office filed a court document indicating it had no objection to Ferguson's immediate release.

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