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