Ryan Ferguson enjoys freedom after murder conviction, 40-year sentence overturned

November 28, 2013

In Missouri, Ryan Ferguson is thankful for his freedom and being able to celebrate the holiday with his family and girlfriend today after his murder conviction and 40-year sentence were overturned.

''When they took the shackles off me and I was able to hug my mother, that second, I knew, and it was incredible,'' Ferguson said.

Wrongly convicted of a murder, he always maintained he did not commit, the 29-year-old is reliving his 20's with his family, friends and his new girlfriend, Myka.

The two began dating while Ryan was still in prison when Myka sent him a letter after watching a story about him on TV.

A childhood friend tells the ''Daily Mail'' that people close to Ferguson were skeptical at first, but are now big supporters of the relationship.

Ferguson's Facebook page has gone from, 'free Ryan,' to 'freed Ryan' - and is now a chronicle of his life on the outside.

When asked what was next on his bucket list Ferguson responded, ''I don't know, I'm going to take care of the little things in life, I need to get an ID, get some clothes, I'm really starting life with nothing other than an amazing family, which is everything.''

Now, Ferguson is doing that. He obtained a driver's license, is learning how to use his new iPhone, and even spending time in court, the basketball court.

Ferguson's nightmare began in 2003 when he and a friend, Charles Erickson, were accused of murdering sports journalist Kent Heitholt.

Erickson accepted a plea deal and testified that they committed the crime together for drinking money.

''I looked up and Ryan was over the victim,'' Erickson said.

Ferguson was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but years later, Erickson recanted his statement and admitted that he gave a false testimony against Ferguson.

''It's scary knowing that they're not looking for the truth, they're looking for a conviction,'' Ferguson said.

In early November, a Missouri appeals court overturned Ferguson's conviction and on November 12, Ferguson was released from prison for good.

''I'm actually happier for my parents right now because they have been through so much,'' Ferguson said.

When Ferguson was released in November, he didn't even realize he was getting out. Ferguson thought he was being moved to another facility, but instead, he was taken to his father's car for the ride home.

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