BLOOMINGTON — New DNA test results shake up the list of possible suspects in the 1993 Jennifer Lockmiller case — and strengthens Alan Beaman’s claim of innocence.
Recently tested evidence contained no DNA from Beaman, who spent more than a dozen years in prison before a court ordered him released, or from three other men considered suspects in the case. It did, however, contain DNA from two unknown males.
Documents submitted Thursday to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board by Beaman’s lawyers contained the results of tests a Missouri lab did on a vaginal swab taken from Lockmiller.
Beaman, now 39, was released in 2008 following the reversal of his murder conviction by the Illinois Supreme Court in an opinion that called the evidence in his 1995 jury trial “tenuous.”
McLean County prosecutors opted to dismiss the murder charges against Beaman but have maintained that authorities consider Lockmiller’s death an open case. Beaman and Lockmiller had a rocky dating relationship that had ended shortly before she was found strangled and stabbed in her Normal apartment.
Assistant State’s Attorney Pablo Eves said Thursday his office has received the results, which are being reviewed.
The significance of the new evidence cannot be overstated, said Beaman lawyers Karen Daniel and Jeff Urdangen in their supplemental report to the clemency board considering recommending a pardon to Gov. Pat Quinn.
Crime scene evidence indicating that Lockmiller had been sexually assaulted combined with the DNA report “very strongly suggests that at least one, if not both, of the contributors of the semen raped and killed her,” said the lawyers.
The DNA report also “demonstrates that the prosecution’s theory of the case at Alan Beaman’s trial was utterly false,” said the lawyers with the Center on Wrongful Convictions in Chicago.
The recent round of DNA testing was completed as part of a certificate of innocence petition filed by Beaman in 2009. The McLean County state’s attorney’s office has opposed the certificate, which, if granted, would qualify Beaman to receive $170,000 from the state as compensation for the 13 years he served of a 50-year sentence.
In March 2011, the state asked for permission to have additional tests performed on the material recovered from the 22-year-old victim’s body.
The recent testing follows forensic examinations in 2003 on the same evidence, tests that did not yield definitive answers. With advances in technology comes the possibility that a new round of testing could produce useful results, prosecutors claimed.
Four of the Illinois State University student’s former boyfriends were considered suspects by police in the initial investigation. In addition to Beaman, police also questioned Michael Swain, who was Beaman’s former roommate and had recently lived with Lockmiller, Stacey Gates, and a fourth man referred to as John Doe by authorities. John Doe also had supplied the victim with drugs, according to police.
The Missouri lab had access to the DNA of all four men, according to documents.
In many appeals filed since the conviction, Beaman’s lawyers have argued that jurors should have been told about the existence of John Doe as a viable suspect. A judge barred information about the man, who did not have an alibi for the time Lockmiller was killed.
Beaman grew up in Rockford with his family before he entered Illinois Wesleyan University in 1990. Before his arrest on murder charges, the criminal history for the theatre arts major consisted of a speeding ticket he received a year after Lockmiller’s death. Beaman moved back to Rockford after his graduation in 1994 and was working as a meat wrapper at a grocery store when his former girlfriend was killed.
Beaman and his wife live in Rockford and are expecting their first child next month.