ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal appeals court has ordered a judge to revisit her refusal to throw out a $100 million lawsuit by a man whose conviction in a Missouri sports editor's death was overturned after his nearly a decade in prison.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey last year rejected a request by six Columbia police officers to dismiss Ryan Ferguson's lawsuit alleging they fabricated evidence, coerced witnesses and ignored other suspects. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday directed Laughrey to clarify whether the officers have immunity.

Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years for Columbia sports editor Kent Heitholt's 2001 death. Ferguson denied involvement and was released in 2013 after an appeals court ruled the prosecutor withheld evidence.

Ferguson's attorney says she expects the trial "in the very near future."

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)