ROCKFORD (WREX) — Twenty-five years after being convicted in the murder of Andy Ascher, Patrick Pursley was found not guilty by Judge Joe McGraw Wednesday morning.
Judge McGraw’s decision came after weighing two full days of testimony last Thursday and Friday and hearing closing arguments Tuesday morning.
Judge McGraw offered comments on evidence, saying clothing of the suspect identified by witnesses was described as Pursley’s. Ultimately clothing was seized from Pursley and no biological evidence was found on the clothing after forensic testing was done. He also said evidence presented in 1993 was scant by today’s standards and if you start with scant evidence, you’re not in a good position to reevaluate evidence all these years later.
Judge McGraw also says testimony given by Pursely’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Crabtree, gave Pursley an alibi for the night of the murder, despite her telling conflicting stories during the original trial.
Pursley was convicted in 1994 for the murder of Andy Ascher. He was granted a retrial after ballistics tests showed the gun presented in the original trial may not have matched bullets and shell casings found at the scene of the crime.
Both the prosecution and the defense spoke at length about ballistics evidence in the case. The state provided two firearm experts. Those witnesses said bullets found at the crime scene could not be ruled as a conclusive match with the gun recovered from Pursley’s residence. However, witnesses also testified the shell casings found at the scene did match the alleged murder weapon.
The defense team presented two experts of their own who completely refuted claims made by the state’s experts. Defense experts say evidence found at the crime scene did not match the alleged murder weapon, and was fired from a different gun.
Pursley declined to testify in the case.
13 News will be getting reaction from the case and have coverage tonight at 13 News at 5 and 6.