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Alan Beaman reaches $5.4 million agreement with Town of Normal, officers

Alan Beaman shares a prayer with a supporter and his parents, in a courthouse hallway
Edith Brady-Lunny
Alan Beaman shares a prayer with a supporter and his parents, Carol and Barry Beaman, before a recent hearing at the Peoria County Courthouse.

An agreement calling for a $5.4 million settlement has been reached between Alan Beaman and the Town of Normal and three retired police officers over Beaman’s wrongful conviction on murder charges that sent him to prison for more than 12 years, before his release and dismissal of the charges.

The town announced the settlement Friday morning on its website, saying at least $4 million would be covered by insurance and the rest from the general fund.

“The proposed settlement mitigates any risk of an excess verdict and protects the municipality from any excess verdict where damages could far exceed insurance coverage,” said the report. The town “admits no wrongdoing and fully stands behind the investigation and actions of its officers,” town officials said in the statement.

The town council will be asked to approve the settlement at its regular meeting on Monday.

Named with the town in the lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution were retired officers Frank Zayas, Dave Warner and Tim Freesmeyer. The agreement to end the dispute comes 10 years after Beaman filed the civil lawsuit accusing the officers of framing him in the 1993 death of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lockmiller.

The agreement was reached following negotiations on March 25 between the two sides. A trial slated to begin April 15 in McLean County has been cancelled.

Beaman was a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University when he became the focus of a homicide investigation into Lockmiller’s death. The victim, a student at Illinois State University, was killed in her apartment near campus.

Police theorized that Beaman drove from his parent’s home in Rockford to Normal, killed Lockmiller, and returned before his mother finished a round of errands. The alleged motive promoted by police stemmed from the tumultuous relationship between Lockmiller and Beaman before the two stopped seeing one another.

Lawyers for Beaman have long argued Normal police failed to consider other potential suspects, including men with histories of domestic violence and drug use who also dated Lockmiller. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed the evidence against Beaman was tenuous and cited the state’s withholding of evidence favorable to Beaman.

Following his release and dismissal of the charges, Beaman was awarded a certificate of innocence by the state and a governor’s pardon. The state dropped its opposition to the certificate of innocence after new DNA testing produced evidence of two unknown male suspects who had been intimately involved with Lockmiller.

Before the agreement announced Friday, both sides were headed into a trial with levels of risk that they ultimately decided was in their best interest to avoid.

The decision on whether Beaman had proved his case and was entitled to damages would have been made by a panel of McLean County jurors. If Beaman’s legal team was unsuccessful, he may have been left empty handed.

For the town’s legal counsel, the challenge of defending the officers' handing of the case could have been costly beyond the $5.4 million settlement, if jurors sided with Beaman. Sixteen years of news coverage surrounding Beaman’s post-conviction efforts has produced a steady stream of information on the accusations against the retired officers.

Compounding the risk for the town were favorable rulings for Beaman made by Peoria County Judge Frank Ierulli at a March 15 pre-trial hearing. The judge, assigned last year to hear the case because of judicial conflicts in the 11th Judicial Circuit, ruled that an expert witness for Beaman would be allowed to testify about how a proper homicide investigation should be conducted. A comparison with Normal’s work on the Beaman case was likely to follow.

The judge also gave Beaman’s team a green light to share the consequences of spending more than a dozen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Jonathan Loevy, one of Beaman’s lawyers, assured the judge and town attorney Thomas DiCianni that jurors would be asked to award “a gazillion million dollars” to Beaman.

The town scored favorable but potentially less consequential rulings from Ierulli, including approval to tell jurors about Beaman’s prior drug use and statements he made to police about his former girlfriend. The negative information would be limited, however, to what police considered in their decision to seek murder charges, the judge ruled.

The list of potential witnesses for the trial included the three retired investigators, former prosecutors who went on to serve as judges — James Souk and Bill Yoder — and people who knew Beaman and Lockmiller during their college years.

Beaman resides in Rockford with his wife and two daughters.

Edith Brady-Lunny was a correspondent at WGLT, joining the station in 2019. She left the station in 2024.