One man could be walking free very soon after an appeals court overturned his murder conviction on Tuesday, and his freedom may have journalism to thank.
For nearly ten years, CBS correspondent Erin Moriarty has been following the case of Ryan Ferguson, the Missouri man charged for the murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. Moriarty and her "48 Hours" team covered the case and sat through Ferguson's trial -- they were the first national media outlet to cover the case at that time.
Moriarty always reported feeling that there was "something not right about this case," and slowly over time, pieces of the story began to fall apart just as she had suspected. The entire verdict was based off of the hazy accusations of Ferguson's friend at the time, Charles Erickson. Eventually, Moriarty's reporting caught the attention of one lawyer who decided to take on Ferguson's case.
Now, almost a decade later, Ferguson's conviction has been overturned due to an unfair trial. But had it not been for Moriarty's persistent coverage of the case, Ferguson says that he does not believe he would have ever gotten justice.
"I almost know, almost certainly, that if you had not covered the trial a lot of the facts would still remain probably hidden," Ferguson told Moriarty during an interview on "48 Hours" on Tuesday. "I think that was very beneficial to us in having somebody actually look at the reality of this case in a non-biased manor and look at both sides equally. Because before then, nobody had done that."
Ferguson told Moriarty that without her reporting, he still believes that "very few people" would understand the "injustices" that took place during trial.
"You guys actually looked at the reality of what happened in this case and you reported on that."