Illinois man who took on ballistics evidence faces retrial

An Illinois man who spent more than two decades in prison for a murder conviction obtained with shoddy ballistics evidence is getting a chance to prove his innocence with a new trial.

The retrial of 53-year-old Patrick Pursley in the April 1993 killing of 22-year-old Andy Ascher is set to begin Thursday in Rockford, where Ascher was fatally shot during a robbery while sitting in a car with his girlfriend.

Pursley was convicted in Ascher’s death in 1994 based mostly on ballistics analysis that was once thought to infallible but is now considered antiquated.

For years, Pursley pushed for the evidence to be retested using a much more accurate system that emerged after he was convicted. When it eventually was, the new tests showed the ballistics evidence didn’t match the alleged murder weapon.

In March 2017, a judge ordered a retrial and allowed Pursley to go free on bail.

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