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Man gets 9 years in prison in killing of UW-Whitewater graduate

Tyrell Joseph
Posted at 11:52 AM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 06:37:03-04

MILWAUKEE — Tyrell Joseph was sentenced to nine years in prison in connection to the murder of Purcell Pearson, who was just 22 years old when he was shot and killed while selling glasses over a year ago.

The judge also handed down six years of extended supervision. Joseph's one year in jail already will count towards time-served. He plead guilty to 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide - as a Party to a Crime.

Joseph spoke to the family of Pearson in court, acknowledging how his actions in a robbery led to Pearson's death.

"I just want (you all) to know that I genuinely apologize, but not only apologize, I'm here to face the consequences of what happened on February 6," Joseph said.

Pearson's family also spoke in the Milwaukee County courtroom.

"The day the defendant and his friend chose to rob and murder my son, leave him dead in the street, and run away is just unacceptable," Stephanie Johnson, Pearson's mom, said.

Pearson's sister also spoke.

"When I received my first full ride scholarship to college, it was in April of 2021, some time after Purcell was murdered, the first thing I did was pick up my phone to tell him what happened. Tell him how excited I was, and at that moment I knew," Makayla Hughes said.

Pearson's mom believed Joseph's apology was sincere.

"I definitely felt that," Johnson said. "It actually brought tears to my eyes because not only is my family hurting, his is hurting too."

Police said the deadly shooting happened during a Facebook marketplace meet-up to sell designer glasses on Feb. 6, 2021.

Two people were charged: Joseph, who was arrested this summer, and Ismael Moreno, who remains on the run.

Pearson, a UW-Whitewater graduate, was honored with a City of Milwaukee proclamation. He was also recognized by leaders of the state of Wisconsin and U.S. House of Representatives.

Purcell Pearson
Purcell Pearson

At his alma mater, there’s a scholarship in his name.

To donate to the Purcell Alex Pearson Achievement Scholarship, visit here.

A criminal complaint states Pearson's brother told police at the time that Pearson was selling glasses, and the suspects robbed him and shot him.

The Medical Examiner's Office concluded Pearson died from two gunshot wounds, in his chest and in his back.

The brother told detectives in an interview that he and Pearson had been selling designer glasses for three to four months. They would buy glasses on DHGate and then sell them in Milwaukee on OfferUp and Facebook.

About a week before the homicide, they posted Cartier glasses for $400, the complaint states. A person by the name of Pablo Fernandez messaged them, saying he was interested in buying them.

Pearson appears to have met the interested buyer in person, who told Pearson that the glasses were not tight enough and wanted to buy two pairs for $500. Pearson went back to their apartment, fixed the glasses and returned to the street, according to prosecutors.

Outside the apartment, Pearson's brother found Pearson standing next to a van. A short time later, his brother heard a gunshot and found Pearson lying in the street near where was van was parked, the complaint states.

Investigators tracked the name Pablo Fernandez on “OfferUp” to a 262 area code phone number belonging to an adult woman. In 2019, the woman had been interviewed by police, when she told them her son was Tyrell D. Joseph, who at the time had been shot in the leg, according to prosecutors.

Surveillance video narrowed down the suspected van involved in the homicide as a blue Toyota Sienna minivan. It had been left across an alley where Joseph's family lives.

Joseph's grandfather, who lives there, confirmed to investigators Joseph's identity in surveillance footage. The grandfather also confirmed to police the identity of Ismael E. Moreno in surveillance footage.

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