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Ex-football Star Exonerated a Decade after Rape Conviction

By Prison Legal News

A California high school football star who was exonerated after serving five years in prison for kidnapping and raping a classmate has fulfilled his dream of playing for the NFL, and there are now plans to make a movie about his ordeal. Meanwhile, the woman who falsely accused him has been ordered to pay $2.6 million.

The crowd in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta cheered when Brian Banks, 28, took the field wearing an Atlanta Falcons uniform in the fourth quarter of a pre-season game on August 8, 2013. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker racked up two tackles during the Falcons’ 34-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was definitely a good feeling,” Banks said. “It was one of those things where, coming from where you’re coming from, just to have people support you chasing a dream. These guys have been working on this all their life. From Pop Warner [youth football program] to high school to college, this is what they’ve been doing. For them to accept me, and let me be a part of it, and just get out here and play and show what I can do is more than I can ask for.”

Although he was cut from the Falcons’ lineup before the regular season, Banks signed a movie deal with Gidden Media, which intends to tell his story in a full-length feature film. The entertainment website TMZ reported on January 9, 2014 that the movie will portray Banks’ fight to clear his name, and how he went from being a convicted sex offender to an NFL player.

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Ryan Ferguson Released

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Last Tuesday morning when inmate #1137593 bent down to tie his shoes, he did not know what the rest of the day would bring.

The inmate’s name was Ryan Ferguson.

Ferguson remained neutral with his emotions because had been through the same scenario before. He was holding back from getting his hopes up that this would be the last day he spent behind bars. Ferguson had served ten-years of a 40-year sentence for a murder he claims he did not commit.   

November 12, 2013 turned out to be Ferguson’s lucky day. Just seven-hours later, a composed Ryan Ferguson was surrounded by probing reporters outside the Tiger Hotel in Columba, Missouri. After ten years of being incarcerated for murder, 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson was finally exonerated and set free.

The main question inquiring minds want to know about Ferguson is this:  is he bitter about having a decade of his life snatched away from him? Ferguson was a 20-year-old college student when he was arrested. He spent all of his 20s incarcerated.

Amazingly, Ferguson is more interested in moving forward with his new life on the outside than seeking revenge. He has even forgiven his friend that initially lied about his involvement in the murder. Ryan now wants to start a campaign to free this man.

On Halloween night, 2001, Ferguson and his friend, Charles Erickson went out for a night on the town. They engaged in a night of underage drinking until the bars closed at 1:00am.  According to Ferguson, Erickson dropped him off at home and he went to sleep. During the wee hours of the morning, Kent Heitholt, sports writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune was brutally murdered in the parking lot of his office.  

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