Alan Beaman, whose conviction for a 1993 murder was overturned nearly five years ago, was finally declared innocent on Thursday when the McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney confirmed that the county was dropping its three-year opposition to the innocence petition, reported the Pantagraph.
For Karen Daniel and Jeff Urdangen with the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law, the innocence petitions ends more than a decade of legal wrangling on Beaman’s behalf.
The evidence at Beaman’s trial that he drove 140 miles each way from Rockford to Bloomington at high speeds to kill Lockmiller and return home before his mother could detect his absence fell far short of what was needed to convict Beaman, said Daniel.
“He was expected to prove he wasn’t and couldn’t have been in Normal at the time of the murder. There was simply no evidence,” said Daniel, adding that the state’s closing remarks at the trial comparing Beaman to Adolf Hitler were “out of control.”
Alan Beaman was a college student when he was wrongfully convicted of killing his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller, and sentenced to 50 years in prison. His direct appeal was denied despite a lack of evidence linking him to the crime, and he sought assistance from the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. However, he was not eligible for compensation without a certificate of innocence.
Although the circuit and appellate courts continued to uphold the conviction, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reversed Beaman’s conviction in 2008, finding that the trial prosecutor had violated Beaman’s constitutional rights. Eight months later, all charges were dropped and he was released from prison after serving 13 years. In 2012, DNA tests on vaginal swabs taken from the victim revealed two unidentified male profiles and excluded Beaman and three other male suspects.
Beaman was joined in court by his wife, Gretchen and parents, Barry and Carol Beaman. He is employed as a machinist and lives with his wife, stepdaughter and nine-month-old daughter.