Rockford Man Found Guilty of Killing His Wife

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The jury deliberated for ten-and-a-half hours before finding Willard Purcell guilty of first-degree murder.

Purcell is charged in the June Sixth, 2001, death of Barbara "Lorrie'' Purcell. The 42-year-old woman was found at the bottom of a stairwell in their home.

During his two week trial, prosecutors claimed Purcell beat his wife over the head with a metal flashlight and then put her body at the bottom of the stairs. Purcell admitted at trial to hitting his wife with the flashlight but claimed she slipped and fell halfway down the stairs.

In 1987, Purcell's first wife was also found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs, but an expert ruled Crystal Purcell's death an accident.