The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that insurance providers for the city of Columbia must pay $5.3 million to a man who spent nearly a decade in prison before his conviction for killing a Columbia sports editor was vacated.
KRCG-TV reports the court ruled that St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance should pay Ryan Ferguson $1 million a year for five years. Ferguson also was awarded $354,000 in attorney’s fees.
Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2001 death of Kent Heitholt, who was killed in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune. An appeals court vacated the conviction in 2013, saying Ferguson didn’t receive a fair trial because the prosecutor’s office withheld evidence from defense attorneys.
Ferguson sued six Columbia police officers involved in his case, alleging they fabricated evidence, coerced witnesses and failed to investigate other possible suspects.
The appeals court ruling says that a circuit court was correct when it found language in the city’s insurance policies made it clear they provided coverage for Ferguson’s claims of harm.
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