|After watching the story of Ryan Ferguson Saturday night on 48 Hrs., I was shocked to learn the number of innocent people doing time in prison for a crime they have never committed. It amazes me how police officers are willing to threaten and manipulate witnesses, causing false confessions from the supposed accomplices, eyewitnesses and others, and how they in such cold blood perjure themselves in court.More than anything it surprises me how deputy district attorneys are willing to sentence an innocent person for the sole purpose of winning a case, especially if they are viewing a possible judgeship in their near future.The case of Ryan Ferguson brought many memories to my mind, and we need to accept the fact that Missouri is not the only state with corrupt judges, prosecutors and police officers. Nevada can be standing next to Missouri fighting for first place when it comes to judicial corruption.
I am not going into all the details about the case of Ryan Ferguson because I believe that a great number of citizens already know his sad story and the injustices of the supposed Justice System. Just to refresh some people’s mind:
On Halloween night in 2001, Columbia Tribune Sports Editor, Kent Heitholt, was found murdered in the Tribune parking lot.
Years after that fateful 2001 Halloween night that Ryan Ferguson spent with someone he believed was his friend, Charles (Chuck) Erickson, then 17, Ryan was away at college while a troubled, mentally unstable, drug addicted Chuck Erickson began confiding to friends he was having dreams about Heitholt’s murder.
Erickson’s friends reported their conversations to the police and he was brought in and questioned.
Erickson’s interrogation was taped and it has been all over the Internet; in it we see a troubled and confused young man fed details of the crime, of which he was unaware, by Columbia Police detectives John Short and Jeff Nichols. Erickson had read in the newspapers and understood that two people were involved in Heitholt’s murder, so in exchange for a 25-year sentence, and to avoid a death sentence, he identified the person he was with on that fateful night as Ryan Ferguson.
Ryan Ferguson, who had never been in trouble before, was accused of murder; he had no connection to the victim; his hair samples and fingerprints were never connected to the crime scene. And the bloody shoe print was never connected to him. Yet he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 40 years based on the testimony of the high school friend and crack freak that he was with the night of the murder at a nearby discotheque, as well as the eyewitness testimony of Jerry Trump, a janitor of the newspaper building, who at the very beginning could not identify the perpetrators of the brutal murder.
Both Erickson and Trump recanted their testimony at Ferguson’s Habeas petition, which Judge Daniel Green totally ignored, denying Ryan Ferguson his request for a new trial.
Erickson testified that he still doesn’t remember anything about that night but that detectives Short and Nichols instructed him on the details of the crime.
Jerry Trump testified that prosecutor Kevin Crane told him that it would be “helpful to him” if Trump could identify Ryan Ferguson as one of the men at the crime scene.
We now wonder, “helpful” to whom? Trump, who was on parole for a child molestation case? or to Kevin Crane, with aspirations to become a judge and who needed a winning star on his record?
Judge Green’s ruling said, “This Court finds the recantation of Erickson to be not credible and false,” but he did find Trump’s recantation credible. However, it did not change his feeling on the correctness of the original jury trial verdict and judgment.
The scariest thing would be to be judged and sentenced by twelve jurors of your peers.
Kevin Crane is now wearing a black robe and is seated on a bench, thanks to the voters of Boone and Callaway Counties, destroying the lives of several other innocent people for personal gain. Maybe this time his eyes are set on a higher position.
Nevada also has its share of prosecutorial misconduct.
Paul Recktenwald is an inmate at High Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, Nevada, doing six life sentences for having sexual contact with the supposed underaged (younger than 16 years old) Anjelique Marker.
Anjelique Marker was already 16, the age of consent in the State of Nevada, and by her own account, engaged to be married to Recktenwald.
Nevertheless, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison (the other five life sentences were imposed by the judge for calling the prosecutor the Anti-Christ).
Some years later, Anjelique Marker recanted her testimony and admitted she committed perjury, stating that at the time she was young and stupid (her own words) and was coerced and intimidated by the chief prosecutor.
Paul Recktenwald is a man with no close family and/or financial means. Seventeen attorneys have been appointed by the court to represent him on post convictions, appeals and whatever recourses there might be. Not even one of the attorneys has filed a motion on his behalf. All those jokers are collecting money from the court system for sitting on their behinds and making a fool of an innocent human being with his hopes hinged on those incompetent attorneys.
At the beginning of this article I said the case of Ryan Ferguson brought memories to my mind. To be a good prosecutor you don’t need much knowledge of the law; you only need to be insensitive, cynical, have hopes for a judgeship (in Clark County, Nevada every judge is a former prosecutor), be tight with some police officers (who later on, when they are through needing you, will happily stab those same prosecutors in the back), and wait for the little plaque the District Attorney will give you when you decide to go into private practice showing off all the cases you have so heartlessly won.
Once upon a time there was a deputy district attorney who expressed his opinion that he couldn’t prosecute some people because they were victims of well-established set-up and entrapment by police officers with the assistance of another corrupt deputy district attorney. That deputy district attorney was willing to give an affidavit to the defendants explaining how the entrapment took place and the names of the police officers involved.
A very short time later he was found dead of an overdose. Accident? Coincidence? Not in my book. It was just plain murder. Going back to the case of Ryan Ferguson. I believe it is time for Missouri Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon to get involved and investigate the travesty of justice against this young man doing 40 years for a crime he never committed.
It is not a case of granting him a Governor’s Pardon just to get him out of the system and further cover up all wrongdoings against this young man who already lost nine years of his life, but a case of setting up an investigation on the actions of police detectives John Short and Jeff Nichols, deputy district attorney (now judge) Kevin Crane and even Judge Daniel Green.
The governor cannot correct a wrong by simply granting a pardon and pretending a pardon would do the right thing.
Ryan Ferguson and his family need to be vindicated for all their years of suffering.
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.