Ballistics testing takes stage in second day of retrial for Patrick Pursley

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- Updated: Jan. 11, 2019, 6:15 p.m.

Closing arguments are set for Tuesday morning in the retrial of a Rockford man who spent more than two decades behind bars for murder. Patrick Pursley hopes to convince the court he is innocent.

Ballistics testing took the main stage on the second day of the trial. Numerous retired Rockford police and forensic experts gave testimony as the prosecution wrapped its case.

Pursley is accused of fatally shooting Andy Archer in 1993. The original conviction was overturned after tests determined bullets did not match a weapon used to convict Pursley.

Prosecutors believe the investigation and subsequent ballistics tests prove Pursley is guilty. The defense claimed there is no evidence pointing to parsley as the shooter. The defense called only two witnesses, both firearms experts.

During the original investigation, a Taurus gun was found in Pursley’s home and was considered the murder weapon. The defense witnesses had a different conclusion.

Four bullets were tested using a Taurus gun and then compared them to the original evidence and in their conclusions, they say the bullets had different markings and that it wasn’t from the same gun.

Prosecutors believe careless cleaning could have provided the additional markings that the firearm experts were referring to in court.

Closing arguments are set for Tuesday.


Police officers and witnesses were called to the stand during a retrial Thursday for Patrick Pursley, who spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime he says he did not commit.

Pursley was convicted for the shooting death of Andrew Ascher in 1993. While he was in prison he asked for two shell casings to be retested under an integrated ballistic identification system.

New tests determined the bullets and shell casings from the scene had scratches and dents that did not match the weapon used in Ascher's murder.

Retired Rockford Police detectives and an Illinois State Police Crime Forensic Lab investigator re-presented evidence from the crime scene.

Becky Myers, Ascher's former girlfriend, was in the car when he was shot on April 3, 1993, and recalled what she remembered from that night.

"I heard somebody say this is a stick up hand me your money. I heard the door open and heard somebody say that... I was in shock because I thought Andy was getting out to go inside," said Myers.

Samantha Crabtree, Pursley's girlfriend at the time of the crime, was called to the stand. She used her 5th amendment right and did not answer any question in case something from previous testimony could find her guilty of perjury.

The bench trial will continue into tomorrow. Closing remarks are expected early next week.


Published: Jan. 10, 2019, 9:40 a.m.

A Rockford man who spent more than 20 years in prison for murder is being retried for the crime he says he did not commit.

53-year-old Patrick Pursley spent 23 years behind bars for the 1993 killing of 22-year-old Andrew Ascher, who was shot to death while sitting in a car with his girlfriend in Rockford.

Judge Joseph McGraw ordered the retrial after ballistics evidence used to convict Pursley in 1994 was retested with new technology. Ballistic experts testified that scratches and dents on bullets and cartridges from the scene didn’t match the gun prosecutors said was the murder weapon.

Pursley's retrial for the murder begins Thursday. We have a reporter in court and will provide updates in the case.