Beaman Files New Lawsuit Charging Trio of Former Police Officers Conspired to Frame Him for Murder
Alan Beaman, who spent more than 13 years in prison before the Illinois Supreme Court reversed his murder conviction, has filed a lawsuit against three former Normal, Illinois, police officers involved in a conspiracy to frame Beaman and against their employer, the municipality of Normal.
Beaman’s lawsuit alleges former Normal Police Detectives Tim Freesmeyer and Dave Warner and former Normal Police Lieutenant Frank Zayas ignored Beaman’s alibi placing him 140 miles away in Rockford when 21-year-old Jennifer Lockmiller was murdered in Normal in 1993. The defendants also fabricated evidence, withheld evidence, lied under oath, and failed to conduct meaningful investigations of suspects with the motive and opportunity to commit the murder, according to the suit.
Lockmiller, an Illinois State University student, was strangled to death with an electric cord and was found with a pair of scissors buried in her chest up to the handles. Her death was only the third murder in Normal in a decade and the police “faced enormous pressure to ‘solve’ the case,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges police fixated quickly on Beaman, who had been in a romantic relationship with Lockmiller until about a month before she was murdered.
The suit was filed in McClean County Circuit Court by Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center attorneys Locke Bowman, David Shapiro and Alexa Van Brunt, and by Center for Criminal Defense Director Jeffrey Urdangen. In January, a federal district judge in Peoria dismissed Beaman’s federal civil rights lawsuit filed in 2010 against the same officers. That ruling is on appeal to the federal Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The wrongful conviction forced Beaman to spend most of his 20s and half of his 30s behind bars in maximum-security prisons where gangs dominate and Beaman feared for his life on a daily basis. In addition to loss of freedom, loss of income and loss of a normal life, Beaman “continues to experience psychological pain and suffering, and emotional distress, including humiliation, constant fear of law enforcement and imprisonment, anxiety, insomnia, despair, rage, and other physical and psychological effects from his years of wrong incarceration,” the suit states.
Beaman Sues Cops, Prosecutors Who Plotted His Wrongful Conviction
Seeking accountability for the gross injustice he suffered, Alan Beaman, a man who spent 13 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the men who conspired to frame him for the 1993 killing of an Illinois State University student.
Beaman is seeking damages for his wrongful conviction in the murder of 21-year-old Jennifer Lockmiller, who was strangled to death in her Normal apartment. The gruesome slaying rattled the Bloomington-Normal community and prompted a high-profile investigation by local police and prosecutors.
Beaman was a 22-year-old Rockford resident majoring in theater at Illinois Wesleyan University at the time of his arrest. He endured 13 years in a state penitentiary - forfeiting not only his freedom but an opportunity to develop a professional career, form a family and enjoy all of the benefits of adulthood -- until he was cleared of charges in the crime one year ago.
"On the one-year anniversary of Alan's exoneration in this crime, it's high time we hold accountable the men who knowingly took away the best years of his life and left his reputation and his professional earning potential irreparably damaged," said Beaman's attorney Locke Bowman, Legal Director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University. "These police detectives and prosecutors defiled the integrity of their office and trampled over the Constitution they were sworn to uphold."
Bowman's co-counsel will be his Northwestern colleague Jeffrey Urdangen, who has represented Alan since 1996 in post conviction proceedings that ultimately led to Mr. Beaman's release.
The suit was filed against former assistant state's attorney James Souk; former McClean County State's Attorney Charles Reynard; Normal Police Detectives Tim Freesmeyer, Rob Hospelhorn and Dave Warner; and Normal Police Lieutenants John Brown and Frank Zayas.
The lawsuit demonstrates these officials conspired to blame Beaman for the crime, despite overwhelming evidence that not only substantiated his innocence but implicated another suspect.
According to the suit, the defendants concealed evidence proving that Beaman could not have been at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. Meanwhile, prosecutors had compiled evidence showing that a former boyfriend of Lockmiller's, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, had a criminal record for drug possession and domestic battery, had failed to complete a lie-detector test and had no alibi for the murder.
Despite these glaring signs that John Doe was a prime suspect, Souk knowingly presented false testimony of Freesmeyer to the Grand Jury and at trial that only Beaman could have committed the crime.
On the day of the murder, Beaman was living in Rockford and was videotaped leaving a bank in the area at 10:11 AM, one hour and 49 minutes before the defendants claimed that the murder took place. At 10:37 AM and 10:39 AM calls were placed from the Beaman residence to a nearby church. Souk and Freesmeyer alleged that Beaman did not have adequate time to travel back from the bank and place the calls, even though they had conducted time trials that disproved that conclusion.
But at trial, at the behest of Souk, Freesmeyer withheld the results of the time trial as well as evidence incriminating to John Doe. Beaman was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction, ruling that Beaman's constitutional rights had been violated. He was released from prison on bond, and on January 29, 2009, Mclean County dropped all charges against him.
Updated - 02/22/2010