Alan Beaman is not entitled to a jury trial on his claim that three former Normal police detectives conspired to wrongfully convict him of murder, the Fourth District Appellate Court ruled in its opinion released Tuesday.
The unanimous opinion by the three-judge panel is the second denial by the court of Beaman’s appeal of a 2016 dismissal of his lawsuit against former officers Tim Fressmeyer, Dave Warner, and Frank Zayas, and the Town of Normal.
In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed Beaman’s murder conviction in the 1993 death of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lockmiller. The 21-year-old Illinois State University student was found strangled and stabbed in her Normal apartment.
In its 48-page ruling authored by Justice James Knecht, the appellate court rejected arguments from Beaman’s legal team that the three police officers unduly influenced prosecutors to pursue Beaman as the main suspect in the murder investigation.
Beaman’s lawyers with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and Bluhm Legal Clinic contend Beaman was the victim of a malicious prosecution that unjustly sent him to prison for about 13 years before his release. The McLean County state’s attorney opted to dismiss charges.
The most recent appeal followed a February 2019 directive to the appellate court from the Illinois Supreme Court to expand its consideration as to whether the detectives’ actions or conduct played a significant role in the commencement or continuation of the prosecution of Beaman.
The appellate court’s initial review in 2017 of the issues were improperly limited in scope, the Supreme Court ruled.
In its opinion issued this week, the appellate court stuck by its initial ruling that officers did not improperly influence prosecutors.
Beaman’s lawyers have long held that police withheld evidence from Beaman’s defense team and settled far too quickly on Beaman as the primary suspect in Lockmiller’s death.
Lockmiller was involved with several men in the months before her death, including a man who supplied her with drugs and was owed money from her, according to defense arguments. Police did not fully investigate the second viable suspect who also had a history of domestic violence, Beaman’s lawyers contend.
In briefs supporting the officers and the town, Chicago defense lawyer Tom DiCianni challenges claims that crucial information was kept from Beaman’s trial lawyers.
A decision is pending as to whether Beaman’s defense team will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s position a second time.
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