November 13th, 2013
09:34 AM ET

Conviction Tossed; Ferguson Freed

Ryan Ferguson was just a teenager when he was arrested in Missouri in 2004, accused of killing Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt three years earlier.

Implicated by a former friend who said he had dream-like memories of committing the crime, Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for Heitholt's murder and given a 40-year sentence.

Last year, the same friend admitted in court that he lied, as did a janitor who originally placed Ferguson at the crime scene.

For 10 years, Ferguson has sat in prison for a crime he always said he did not commit.

Tuesday night, he walked free, less than a week after an appeals court overturned his conviction, ruling prosecutors withheld evidence in the trial.

CNN's David Mattingly says he's "surprisingly poised" emerging from prison. "He's writing a book. He’s got a girlfriend and friends already say, ‘go into politics.’”

Ferguson's release came hours after Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced he would not retry Ferguson.

He found out about the decision when his lawyer appeared at the prison, holding up a piece of paper behind protective glass. On it she had quickly scrawled two words: "It's over."

Ferguson spoke to New Day's Chris Cuomo saying, he didn't believe he was free until his shackles were removed and he was able to hug his mother. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

Ferguson says it took a decade but he always believed in his innocence and knew this day would come in time.

“I just every day woke up and did what I could to survive, to grow as a human being and to improve my life and get ready for this day to be a free man. So I just kept moving forward."

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