Illinois Supreme Court says case against Beaman weak in 1993 murder
Thursday, May 22, 2008 8:43 PM CDT

By Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD -- The state’s highest court Thursday reversed the conviction of Alan Beaman, who has been in prison for 13 years for the murder of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller of Decatur.

Alan Beaman
Alan Beaman
The court said McLean County prosecutors violated Beaman’s constitutional right to due process of law and called for Beaman to get a new trial.

The decision means McLean County State’s Attorney Bill Yoder must decide whether to embark on a new prosecution of Beaman, 35.

Yoder said he is "saddened for the family of Jennifer Lockmiller."
"My office will take a short period of time ot review the opinion, meet and discuss our options with law enforcement and then announce the fashion in which we will proceed," Yoder said in a press release.

Beaman’s parents, Barry and Carol Beaman of Rockford, left their home Thursday to share the news with their son, who is serving his 50-year term at the state prison in Dixon.

"We’re pretty excited," said Carol Beaman.

Lockmiller, then 22, was found dead in August 1993 in her apartment on North Main street in Normal. She had been stabbed with scissors and strangled with the cord of a clock radio.

Beaman and Lockmiller had previously dated.

Beaman’s attorney, Karen Daniel, argued before the high court in January that the McLean County jury did not hear evidence that could have eliminated Beaman as a suspect.

The jury also wasn’t told about another potential suspect identified as John Doe, who had a romantic relationship with Lockmiller.

In its ruling, the court said the evidence against Beaman was "tenuous."

"In our view, the State’s evidence against petitioner was not particularly strong," wrote Justice Thomas Kilbride.

"They are saying it’s a weak case," said Daniel, of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
Beaman in 1995
A young Alan Beaman walks out of the McLean County Law and Justice Center with his attorney, William Beu, during Beaman's trial in March of 1995. Beaman's conviction for the murder of Jennifer Lockmiller was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, Thursday, May 22, 2008. (Pantagraph file photo)
James Souk, who was an assistant McLean County state’s attorney at the time, prosecuted the case. Souk, now a judge, said through an aide Thursday that it would be improper for him to comment on the ruling because the case is still under litigation.

Members of Lockmiller’s family also decline comment Thursday.

Former Normal police detective Tony Daniels said he has the same doubts today about Beaman’s guilt as he did when he was arrested.

Daniels agreed with the high court ruling that there was more evidence pointing toward John Doe as being involved in Lockmiller’s death and that it was good news that Beaman’s case was sent back for retrial.

Daniels initially led the investigation into Lockmiller’s death, but was replaced as lead detective several weeks into the case.

It was not clear Thursday what the court’s reversal means for Beaman’s incarceration.

’’We have no details whatsoever,’’ Carol Beaman said.

’’The ball is in the prosecutor’s court,’’ added Daniel.

Beaman’s activities on the day of the murder became a focal point of his appeal.

A bank receipt placed Beaman in Rockford at 10:11 a.m. the day Lockmiller was killed 140 miles away in Normal. Two telephone calls placed from Beaman’s home to a church where Beaman attended also raise questions about whether he could have driven to Normal, committed the murder and returned home before his mother came home from a shopping trip.

Prosecutors conceded during arguments to the court in January that some information regarding the timing was disclosed to a grand jury but was not discussed at Beaman’s trial.

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