Hooper Hathaway attorney Ashley Waddell Tingstad is co-counsel on an wrongful conviction case with Jenner & Block in Chicago and Northwestern Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions. Her client, Patrick Pursley, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Andrew Ascher in Rockford, Illinois. The only physical evidence linking Mr. Pursley to the crime were the cartridge cases and bullets found at the crime scene, which an Illinois State Police forensic examiner linked to Mr. Pursley's gun "to the exclusion of all other guns in the world."
Mr. Pursley has always maintained his innocence. In 2012, another forensic examiner tested the ballistics evidence using technology not available in 1993 and concluded that the cartridge cases and bullets from the crime scene could not have been fired from Mr. Pursley's gun. After an evidentiary hearing in December 2016, Winnebago County Circuit Court Chief Judge Joseph McGraw vacated Mr. Pursley's conviction and ordered a retrial.
The State appealed the order vacating Mr. Pursley's conviction. In April 2017, while the appeal was pending, the victim's mother made a statement to the prosecutor that one of the detectives told her, after the trial in 1994, that the police never found the gun that killed her son. She said the detective told her that the police put a different gun into evidence. This statement was memorialized in a By Stander Report. The prosecutor withheld the Report from the defense for a year and a half, despite his Brady obligations and discovery requests. On the eve of retrial in November 2018, after a new prosecutor took over the case and discovered the By Stander Report, the State produced the document to Mr. Pursley.
The Court heard arguments on Mr. Pursley's motion to dismiss on November 13, 2018, and ordered the State's Attorney's Office, the Rockford City Police Department, and the Illinois State Police to produce everything they have related to the Pursley investigation, prosecution, and appeals in advance of a December 20th evidentiary hearing on the defendant's motion. The retrial has been continued to January.
Read more about the case here.