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CONVICTION OVERTURNED MO - Kent Heitholt, 48, found murdered, Columbia, 1 Nov 2001

Discussion in 'Recently Sentenced and Beyond' started by T-Rex, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

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    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/16/48hours/main1322783.shtml
    I just read about this case for the first time, and it is a doozy. It kind of reminds me of the WM3 case.

    2:15AM Halloween of 2001, sports editor Kent Heitholt was killed in the parking lot of the newspaper where he worked.
    January 2004, police got a tip that Chuck Erickson, a high school junior at the time of the killing, told friends he had a dream that he did it, along with his friend Ryan Ferguson.
    When police first interviewed him, he was hazy on the details. But as they led him through the story, again and again, he altered his version to fit their facts.
    Ryan was brought in, and denied everything. Today, they are both in prison; Chuck serving 25 years he was given in a plea deal; Ryan, convicted at trial, and sentenced to 40 years.
    But even Kent's colleagues weren't convinced by the evidence, and with physical evidence that just doesn't fit, I'm not either. Here's a link with lots of other articles. I'd love to know what you guys think.
    http://www.showmenews.com/Heitholt/index.asp

    I think this one is juicy enough and complicated enough to get its own section!!
     
  2. vanillasky

    vanillasky New Member

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    Did you watch it last night on 48 Hours? It was intriguing... and my gut feeling says they're guilty.
     
  3. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

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    No, and I would have loved to have. Did they show either of them talking?
     
  4. vanillasky

    vanillasky New Member

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    Yes, both. Neither Chuck or his family would give an interview to 48 Hours, but they had plenty of footage of him testifying at Ryan's trial, and also footage of his interviews with police. Ryan did speak with 48 Hours, as did his sister and parents. They also aired pieces of Ryan's interview with police. Ryan struck me as being a very cold individual.

    During Ryan's trial, Chuck demonstrated how he beat Mr. Heitholt over the head, and also demonstrated how Ryan strangled him with the belt.

    Several jurors were also interviewed by 48 Hours.


    A friend of mine brought up an interesting point about Chuck's testimony, about the part where he demonstrated how Ryan strangled him with the belt. They were showing a distant shot of the crime scene, and it appeared to her that Mr. Heitholt was found on his back, face up. During his testimony, he said Ryan put the belt around his neck, then pulled up on it while stepping on Mr. Heitholt's back. This story would not match how Mr. Heitholt was found, if in fact he was found on his back. Neither of us was sure from seeing the photos on the show last night. It's definitely a story I want to follow for any new developments.
     
  5. snowy97

    snowy97 New Member

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    I saw the 48 hours mystery show last night and I really don't believe the State proved their case. I can't understand how two drunk teenagers could murder someone so violently, and not leave any evidence behind. They would have had blood all over them. Did the police look at the clothes they were wearing that night? Chuck in his interview with the detectives said that he thought Ryan strangled Kent with a bungee cord from his car, and only changed his mind after the police told them it was with Kent's belt. The police were definitely giving Chuck the details of the crime.
    I have the most problem with the lack of physical evidence though. They said there were bloody shoe prints at the scene that did not match either Chuck or Ryan, well who's were they then?
    The janitor was so unbelievable to me too. He said he couldn't give a detailed description to the police of who he saw that night, (from what they showed last night he didn't give any description except that it was two men), and yet 2 years later while in jail, he sees the accused's picture in the newspaper, and is then able to say under oath that they were the two men he saw that night. I don't buy it! One jurror said that that is what made up his mind. Another jurror said that the look in Chuck's eye when he looked at Ryan made up her mind. I can't believe that you can convict someone of murder on a look.
    The only thing that makes me wonder, is why would Chuck say they did this if they didn't. I guess he really believes that they did do it, or they really did.
    I have to say from what they showed last night, I would have had reasonable doubt if I was on the jury.
     
  6. lymom3

    lymom3 Well-Known Member

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    Neither side was very convincing. I agree...two drunk teenagers are not going to be able to pull that off. No witness to anything. The security guard who couldn't identify the people at the time of the crime, mysteriously could point them out in court by the trial date...hmmmm....he happened to be in prison at that time. No correlation I'm sure.
    The footage of him in the police car showed the police telling him where and how everything happened. Chuck did not have a clue at the time. I also agree that Ryan doesn't seem to have any feelings at all; a pretty cold hearted person from the looks of it. I wouldn't have a hard timing believing that he is capable of such a crime but I don't think there was any compelling proof and I am amazed that they are in jail.
    Even the victims daughter wasn't sure they had the right people. She seemed convinced at the end once the jury convicted them, but throughout the entire show she wasn't convinced either. Pretty weak case.
     
  7. Tristan

    Tristan New Member

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    I watched the show with great interest. I find this case baffling.
    How can there be NO physical evidence when this crime wasn't even premeditated?

    Also, there was an unidentified hair found in the victim's hand, which did NOT match either Ryan or Chuck.

    Ryan definitely seemed to lack emotion, which I found disturbing, but that doesn't make him a killer.

    I don't think the police did even a remotely thorough job investigating this case.

    WHY would Chuck say they did it if they didn't?
    Also, who else would have had motive to commot such a violent
    crime on a reportedly well liked family man with no known enemies?

    Any thoughts??
     
  8. vanillasky

    vanillasky New Member

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    Wasn't it 2 years after the murder before they were looked at as suspects? IMO, they could have had blood all over them and their clothes and could have easily disposed of everything and cleaned up w/o anyone seeing.
     
  9. bertajo

    bertajo New Member

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    I saw the episode on 48 Hours, and I found the story about the belt to be odd as well. I would assume that Kent was on his back for someone to undo the belt from his waist. It was stated in court that Ryan was choking Kent with the belt while Kent was facedown on the pavement. Finally, Kent was photographed dead lying face-up. Why/how did one boy flip Kent twice just to choke him? Kent appears to be a large man. Has anyone found his height and weight info? Whose fingerprints were on the belt?
     
  10. fran

    fran Former Member

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    I saw this show as well and I don't believe the witnesses against the defendent. I was surprised the jury found him guilty.

    The part about stepping on his back during the strangling, yet he was found face up seems as if it might have merit, IMO. Also, I caught that part about LE giving the witness details he didn't know. AND, I don't believe the janitor either. He's not going to not see them upon initial interview but remember years later with a positive ID.

    IMO, this jury was wrong,............all wrong.

    JMHO
    fran
     
  11. vanillasky

    vanillasky New Member

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  12. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

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    Kent's size really bothered me too. If you're going to mug someone for beer money, why pick a guy who's 6'3" and 310 pounds? Then take his watch and car keys instead of his wallet? Is that really the easiest way for a guy who drives a Mercedes to get cash?

    I couldn't find any mention of the teens doing anything violent in the past, either. No kicking dogs, beating up on little kids, etc. Zero to 100, all in the first crime?
     
  13. blueclouds

    blueclouds Former member

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    I find it incredibly interesting the way 48 hours does these shows. THEY provide what THEY want the viewer to think and feel. My assumption is that there is SO much to this story that wasn't on there (and I did watch it too)... that although it lead me to question MUCH of the story and I'm concerned about the fingerprint and hair found, I think the ONE son is very very very good at lying. He's extraordinarily convincing. IF they can find out the source of the limited evidence they have, they'll have their answer.


    The saddest thing? EITHER the kid is innocent and his "friend" is FRUCKED UP OR he's such a "good little boy" and his poor parents are going to spend their lifesavings and retirement to help him..... and they'll be none the wiser.
     
  14. snowy97

    snowy97 New Member

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    You're right, I completely forgot that it had been two years.

    As someone else mentioned I also thought it was strange that they would pick a man of Kent's size to mug. This case is really strange because I just can't figure out why Chuck would say they did it if they didn't :waitasec: I did think Ryan was very cold about the whole thing. I can't even imagine being accused and convicted of something I didn't do, especially if it was my friend was the one accusing me. I would think I would be very emotional! Still I don't think the State proved their case.
     
  15. Tristan

    Tristan New Member

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    Snowy...I agree. If I was accused of something I did not do, and realized the consequences I was about to face, I would probably have a complete emotional breakdown. It's bad enough when it's something you DID actually do, but to be falsely accused must be so horrible.
    Ryan acted as cool as a cucumber....as if he was accused of a speeding ticket. In fact, I get more emotional when I get a speeding ticket!! LOL

    This case was NOT investigated properly.
     
  16. snowy97

    snowy97 New Member

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    I taped this 48 hours and tonight when I was setting up my tape I saw that I still had the episode. I watched the part where they showed Kent on the pavement after he was murdered, and although I can't say for sure, it really looked to me like he was on his back. It makes no sense for him to be on his back if Ryan strangled him with his belt the way Chuck described in court. Most men carry their wallets in their back pockets, so there would be no reason for them to turn him over to his back if their intention was to rob him. I am really disturbed by this case.
     
  17. Usher737

    Usher737 New Member

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    I think both boys are innocent. Evidence does not lie people do. If those boys were drunk and did this, the bloody footprints would match and so would the hair. That alone proves someone else was there or involved.


    I wonder if the janitor lied to cover up his own involvement or just to get a deal to get out of jail. I would love to know if police checked to see if he matched the footprints or hair. He was in the building that night and had to be familiar with Kent's routine.

    The vicious nature of the crime makes me think this could also be more than a regular robbery. It comes off like it was personal. Someone was extremly angry at the victim and wanted him dead. The watch was taken to make it look like a robbery and didn't think to take his wallet.

    This case is really bothering me and it is another example of how LE jumped at the chance to put innocent kids in jail. They helped feed Chuck his story instead of disprove it as a kid who was confused and wanted attention.
     
  18. bnhall

    bnhall Former Member

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  19. Malapoo

    Malapoo Member

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    I remember hearing about the crime when it was still unsolved. Does anyone who may have followed it know if they interviewed the friend he supposedly ran into right after the murder?

    quote:

    ["Erickson saw his friend Dallas Mallory behind the wheel of a car stopped at a red light on Providence Road at Locust Street. He ran toward the vehicle.
    "I didn't know what to do so I just told him — I was kind of in shock and just not knowing what to do about what we did," he said. "And I just told him pretty much that I, you know, didn't — I didn't know what to do and I'd — I'd beat this guy up and that — I remember I told him Ryan — it was Ryan's idea and … I guess I wanted a ride. I mean, I don't — I don't really — like, I didn't really — I just — I didn't know what to do."
    Erickson was standing in the road talking to Mallory when suddenly there were police sirens from the direction of the Tribune. Mallory took off.
    "He almost ran me over, actually," Erickson said. "He peeled out and drove away like really, really fast."]



    end quote


    I would think testimony from this guy would clear things up a bit since it was that night and right afterward.
     
  20. bnhall

    bnhall Former Member

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    Mallory recanted his original testimony.
    http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Jul/20080717News008.asp

    Public defender Valerie Leftwich today called Dallas Mallory, 27, to the witness stand. Mallory, an acquaintance of Erickson, testified he was at a Halloween party earlier that night with Erickson but that Erickson could not have seen him driving a car that night at a downtown intersection. Mallory said he did not have a driver’s license at the time because of a previous DWI conviction and had sold his car.

    After the arrest of Erickson and Ferguson, Mallory said, police badgered him to say he saw Erickson at Providence Road and Locust Street, where Erickson told Mallory the two suspects had just beaten a man.
    "Initially, I told them what they wanted to hear," said Mallory, who added he was subpoenaed for the 2005 trial but was not called to testify. During cross-examination, Mallory admitted he had been drinking heavily that night and might have smoked marijuana. But Mallory was adamant that he left a costume party at The Blue Note at 1 a.m. and went straight home, guessing that he took a cab.
     

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