ROCKFORD — Patrick Pursley, who spent 23 years in prison for the murder of Andy Ascher, was acquitted of the charges on Wednesday after a retrial.
Some courtroom spectators burst into applause as Judge Joe McGraw announced his decision, citing concerns about ballistics evidence used during Pursley’s first murder trial.
McGraw said prosecutors had “not met their burden” in the retrial of Pursley, 53, of Rockford.
“I could not find physical evidence linking Mr. Pursley to the crime scene,” McGraw said.
“I’m just very grateful to live to see this day get here,” Pursley said outside the courtroom after the verdict. “I’m very grateful that the judge was methodical and took his time with this and just saw the evidence for what it was. It’s all still numb to me.”