Man Who Spent 23 Years In Prison Accuses Illinois Police Of Planting Gun In 1994 Murder Case

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Written by Ann Brown

Patrick Pursley, an Illinois man who spent 23 years in prison after being convicted of murder, has been granted a new trial after new ballistic technology proved the gun used as evidence by prosecutors was not the homicide weapon. 

Pursley, now 52, was supposed to go to retrial last week, but now attorneys for the accused want the entire 1994 case dismissed because police withheld evidence. The defense accused the police of planting the gun.

It was the victim’s mother, Lois Ascher,  who inadvertently bought this new information to light.

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“In the motion to dismiss, lawyers for Pursley say Lois Ascher was told by a detective that, ‘There was another gun but they could never find it, so they just threw that one in there,’” Rockford Register Star reported.

The victim, Andy Ascher was 22 when he was shot during an attempted robbery while sitting in his vehicle with his girlfriend.

Judge Joseph McGraw has ordered an investigation into the new allegations that Rockford County police intentionally gave prosecutors the wrong gun, which ultimately led to Pursley being sent to prison for more than two decades for murder.

Now, prosecutors and the Rockford police department must turn over all paper and electronic records that mention Pursley’s case by Dec. 20, when an evidentiary hearing is scheduled. Pursley’s attorneys have also asked for the personnel records of the detectives who investigated Ascher’s death,” ABC News reported.

“His life should not continue to be hijacked by their misconduct,” Andrew Vail, one of Pursley’s attorneys, argued in court.

Judge McGraw set a new trial date for Jan. 10. “He also asked that photos of three Rockford Police Department detectives involved in the case be shown to Lois Ascher, who would try to identify if one of them is the detective who told her police couldn’t find the gun that killed her son. The motion says Ascher was told this right after Pursley’s first trial 24 years ago,” ABC News reported.

During his incarceration, Pursley launched the “I Am Kid Culture,” a group that works to empower urban youth against violence and crime partly through a book series.

After the most recent court proceedings, Pursley said: “I just want this to be over. It is dizzying. It just doesn’t stop. I want it to be done.”

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In this June 28, 2017, photo, Patrick Pursley and his fiancee, Michelle Carr, talk in his attorney’s office in Chicago about how reexamination of ballistic evidence helped him get a new trial for a 1994 murder he says he didn’t commit. The case marks the first time someone has gotten a new trial by using a ballistics software that investigators have been using to put countless criminals behind bars. Pursley is free on bail and living with his fiancee while he waits for a new trial. (AP Photo/Ivan Moreno)