New forensic evidence in retrial of Rockford man accused of 1993 murder

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Patrick Pursley was convicted of shooting and killing Andrew Ascher in 1993, and spent more than 2 decades in prison before being released when new ballistics evidence came to light.

New tests determined that the gun which was used to convict Pursley was not used in Ascher’s murder.

On Thursday, Pursley’s retrial got underway in a Winnebago County courtroom. 

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

Also taking the stand, but refusing to answer any of the prosecution’s questions, was Pursley’s former girlfriend, Samantha Crabtree.

Crabtree invoked her Fifth Amendment right for each question she was asked, including, “Do you know Patrick Pursley.”

Becky Myers, Ascher’s girlfriend at the time — who was in the car when he was shot and killed — recounted how she was approached by someone in the moments leading up to the killing.

“I heard somebody say, ‘This is a stick up, hand me your money,'” she recalled. “I heard the door open. I heard someone say that and I looked up and stared, because I was in shock, because I thought Andy was getting out to go inside.”

The defense introduced new evidence, of footprints found near the scene.

The trial will continue tomorrow.

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