S9E8: The Persistence of Patrick Pursley
On April 2nd, 1993, 22 year old Andrew Ascher and Becky George sat in his parked car by her brother’s apartment building on Silent Road in Rockford, IL, when a black man in a blue ski mask approached the vehicle, announcing a stick up. While Becky frantically fished in her purse for some money, the armed robber shot Andrew twice. Both of the bullets and their casings were retrieved from the crime scene and during the autopsy. Meanwhile, across town, Patrick Pursley celebrated his son’s birthday in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend Samantha Crabtree. Over 2 months later, as the police came up empty on Andrew’s murder, an acquaintance of Patrick and Samantha’s, Marvin Windham, traded false information with the police through Crime Stoppers that implicated Patrick in exchange for leniency in his own legal matters, as well as a $2,650 reward. It was also revealed at trial that Windham had a long time crush on Samantha. Police obtained a search warrant, retrieved a Taurus 9mm from their apartment, and interrogated Samantha, threatening to take away her children if they didn’t get the story they wanted in the form of a confession and an immediate grand jury testimony - a testimony she would later recant at trial. But, with her coerced confession on the record, Windham’s “hot tip”, and conflicting expert ballistics testimony about the murder weapon and the Taurus 9mm found at the apartment, Patrick Pursley was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
In this episode, recorded in front of a live audience at ComplexCon Chicago 2019, Patrick tells Jason of his wrongful conviction and subsequent fight for freedom, including how he changed a law from inside prison in order to obtain the ballistic testing necessary to set himself free.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co No1 and PRX.