Bond Set at $20M in Sports Editor’s Murder

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(AP) A man suspected of killing a newspaper sports editor persuaded a judge to set bond, but Ryan Ferguson will leave jail only if someone can put up $20 million.

Ferguson, 20, remained in the Boone County Jail on Wednesday, two days after Circuit Judge Ellen Roper set bond for him at $20 million. He would have to post 10 percent of the total to be released while awaiting trial.

Prosecutor Kevin Crane, who had opposed Ferguson’s bond motion, said $20 million was the highest set for any defendant since he joined the prosecutor’s office in 1990.

Ferguson is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the death of Kent Heitholt, sports editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Heitholt, 48, was beaten and strangled in the newspaper’s parking lot in the early hours of Nov. 1, 2001.

Police arrested Ferguson and 20-year-old Charles T. Erickson, also of Columbia, in March. The two were juniors at a Columbia high school at the time of the killing.

Erickson pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to second-degree murder, robbery and armed criminal. Under a plea agreement, Erickson will receive up to 25 years in prison in exchange for admitting his role in the killing and testifying in Ferguson’s trial.

A jury is to be selected in Lincoln County, north of St. Louis, when Ferguson goes on trial Jan. 24 in Columbia.

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