A Rockford man will have to wait a few more days to find out if he’ll remain a free man. Patrick Pursley spent more than 20 years in prison for murder, but, new evidence allowed him to be released last year.
He’s now trying to get a second trial for the same murder thrown out. Pursley’s attorney says his life has been hijacked for far too long by others misconduct, adding their team feels very good about the evidence presented in their motion.
Pursley sat in court as attorneys argued whether or not his murder retrial should be dismissed. In 1994, he was convicted for the murder of Andy Ascher. But, last year, a ballistics test proved the gun in the original trial didn’t match the weapon used in Ascher’s death.
“Now what the State is doing, is attempting to retry Mr. Pursley for that same indictment of murder,” said Pursley’s defense attorney Andrew Vail. “We are arguing that that case cannot go forward because of the police and prosecutorial misconduct in that case.”
A bystander report taken in 2017 is at the center of what the defense is calling misconduct. In it, the victim’s mother claims Rockford Police may have planted evidence that helped convict Pursley in 1994. That report, however, never made it to Pursley’s defense team. Something they say former Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Biagi was in charge of.
“All of this stuff about how Biagi is the bad guy but that makes, in all fairness, that office the bad guy here,” said Vail.
The report was finally turned in before the retrial was set to begin last month.
“[The report] should’ve been turned over and it wasn’t,” said Winnebago County Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Rock. “I understand that’s on us.”
Despite the report’s allegations, Rock believes the trial should proceed. Pursley’s team, though, wants the murder retrial dismissed.
“It’s just emotional, you want it over with,” said Pursley. “Somehow it just keeps going on and on. That’s the best way to put it, I just want it over.”
Judge Joseph McGraw didn’t make a decision Friday but says he will take some time to review all the information. A decision could possibly be in by December 28th, after the Christmas holiday.