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Charles Erickson to appeal conviction in 2001 killing

Charles Erickson


COLUMBIA — Twelve years ago Thursday, Charles Erickson told police that he and Ryan Ferguson were responsible for the death of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, who was found beaten and strangled in the newspaper’s parking lot in the early hours of Nov. 1, 2001.

Now — after 12 years of incarceration, three recantations and the release of Ferguson from prison — Erickson will set out on the only remaining route to get out of prison before the end of his 25-year sentence or a parole date.

Erickson’s Columbia-based attorney, Gary Brotherton, said he will file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Pike County Circuit Court in the next few months. The petition will make the case that Erickson is being held illegally because he is innocent and because there were multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct during the investigation. Among other claims, Brotherton said the petition will challenge the techniques used by Columbia police to interview Erickson and obtain his confession in 2004.

Erickson pleaded guilty in November 2004 to second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in exchange for a reduced sentence, contingent on his testimony against Ferguson.

“I feel like my due process rights were violated,” Erickson said Wednesday in a phone interview. “Like every other citizen, I have the same rights. I’d like to have my day in court.” Read More »