ROCKFORD (WREX) — A Rockford man who spent more than three decades in prison will find himself in court again fighting to prove his innocence.
On Thursday, Patrick Pursley will be retried on murder charges in a bench trial before Judge Joseph McGraw. Lawyers from Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Chicago-based firm Jenner and Block will represent Pursley free of charge at the retrial.
Pursley, now 52 and living in Rockford, was convicted in the 1993 death of Andy Ascher. Decades later, he was granted a new trial after ballistics tests showed the gun presented in his original trial did not match the murder weapon used to kill Ascher.
While in prison, Pursley mostly represented himself. He spent the bulk of his time trying to convince courts to retest the evidence using a more advanced system that links shell casings to guns. His efforts eventually made Illinois the only state in the country that allows retesting of ballistic evidence in appeals using technology that’s primarily used to put criminals behind bars, not exonerate them
13 News will be there for the duration of the trial. We’ll bring you breaking updates online and on air.