Ryan Ferguson Supports Amanda Knox As New Knox Verdict Approaches
Ryan Ferguson, a man who spent 10 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, is speaking out on behalf of Amanda Knox and Mark Woodworth, two people he believes also have been wrongly convicted of murder.
Ferguson, 29, was released from prison in November, 2013 after serving a quarter of his 40-year sentence. In 2005, a 19-year-old Ferguson was convicted for the murder of Kent Heitholt after a friend, Charles Erickson, testified that he and Ferguson were responsible in court. Ferguson believes that his friend was similarly wrongfully convicted and manipulated by the detectives and justice system into a false confession. Since his conviction, Ferguson has been fighting to prove his innocence, eventually leading the witness to admit he lied on the stand. The conviction was overturned on appeal and the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster decided not to retry Ferguson for the crime. Ferguson is now a free man for the first time in a decade and has pledged to help others who have been victims of wrongful convictions by the justice system.
Ryan Ferguson Supports Amanda Knox
Recently, Ferguson made headlines for speaking out in support of Amanda Knox, 26, the American student who was convicted of the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, while studying abroad in Italy in 2007. Knox’s case is currently being tried in Italy for the second time after the Italian Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling that cleared Knox of her initial conviction. After her initial trial, Knox spent almost four years in an Italian prison before she was acquitted on appeal and returned home to the U.S. in 2011. She is currently at home in Seattle while her case is being tried overseas.
The courts expect a verdict in this second Knox trial will be announced soon, perhaps on Thursday, Jan. 30, and Italy could request her extradition should she be found guilty, though it is unclear whether or not the US would comply. Ferguson has spoken publicly to support Knox as the verdict approaches.
“I wanted to reach out to her because I’ve looked at the facts in her case, and I believe in her innocence 100 percent. She was very supportive and helpful when I got out, and I want to be able to give back,” Ferguson explained to Today.com.
— Madison Paxton (@themadpax) November 14, 2013
When Ferguson was released last fall, Knox publicly welcomed him home and, according to Ferguson, reached out to him personally.
“She wanted to reach out and say if you need to talk to anybody, if you need any help, I’m here for you. If not, I completely understand. So that’s how we began communicating,” Ferguson says of their friendship.
Ferguson has embarked on a media tour to help raise awareness for the tragedy of wrongful convictions, a cause he champions on his growing Facebook page, ‘Freed Ryan Ferguson,' which recently reached the milestone of earning 100,000 Likes. On his page, Ferguson published a short defense of Knox on Sunday, Jan. 19, as her trial approached its end.
“Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to Amanda’s story, based on misleading information that has leaked into the media,” he wrote. “I can identify with Amanda on many levels as I know first hand what it is like to have the world turn against you based on a series of lies.”
Ferguson cautions the public to look at cases factually instead of politically. In Knox’s case, Ferguson urges people to study the evidence of the case rather than how Knox has been portrayed or one’s personal feelings towards her.
“The Prosecution didn’t have any real facts to convict Amanda – so turned the trial into a character assassination, presenting Knox as a crazed, sexual deviant. (In the same way my Prosecution presented me at trial as a spoiled rich kid),” Ferguson writes.
Ferguson insists that, based on the facts of the case, he is certain of Knox’s innocence. What he fears is that the political uproar and noise surrounding the case will drown out what he believes the facts demonstrate, that Knox was wrongfully convicted and is innocent of the crime.
“The only thing that’s scary, and this is a quote from me and not her, is the political aspect of it. What I’ve seen in the justice system in the situation I was in is that it’s not always about facts and circumstances; it’s about politics,” Ferguson told Today.
Ferguson Now An Activist For The Wrongfully Convicted
On his Facebook page, Ferguson engaged with supporters who replied to his post about Knox and expanded on his goal to help those he finds wrongfully convicted. Ferguson explains that he will not suddenly champion every case that is in the media, but only select cases he has carefully studied and believes in:
“I certainly don’t expect for everyone to agree and I know quite well that everyone is not innocent. You’ll hear me speak of very few cases on here for that very reason. It takes a lot of time and effort to fully understand a case. Amanda is innocent and if you can’t see that then all is well. I’m 100 percent sure of anyone mentioned on here [the Facebook page] and the reality of life is that people will always see things differently. They did about me before we educated them and I will do the same for Amanda and Mark Woodworth. There will be others as [well], but much research must be done first.”
In addition to speaking about Knox, Ferguson is also reaching out for support for Mark Woodworth, who is currently being tried for the third time for a murder he says he did not commit – his first two convictions have been overturned. Ferguson incourages his supporters to sign a Change.org petition calling for the Missouri Attorney General to drop the charges against Woodworth.
Ferguson is currently working on a book and updates his Facebook page regularly.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
More on Ryan Ferguson: