SPRINGFIELD — A "rational juror" would likely support Alan Beaman’s claim that three former Normal police officers conspired to convict him of murder more than two decades ago, Beaman’s lawyers argue in arguments filed with the Fourth District Appellate Court.
Beaman was a student at Illinois Wesleyan University when he was accused of strangling and stabbing his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller, in her apartment near the Illinois State University campus. He was convicted in 1995 and served 12 years of a 50-year sentence before the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 2008.
Beaman, now 46, and living in his hometown of Rockford, was granted a certificate of innocence by a judge and a pardon from former Gov. Pat Quinn. A federal lawsuit was dismissed, but Beaman filed a lawsuit in state court in 2014 against former Normal police officers Tim Freesmeyer, Frank Zayas and Dave Warner and the town of Normal.
In 2019, the Supreme Court disagreed with a ruling from the appellate court upholding the dismissal of Beaman's lawsuit against the three officers and the town. The appellate court was directed to reconsider whether the three former officers' conduct influenced the decision by the state to prosecute Beaman in the first place.
A favorable decision by the appellate court could allow Beaman to make his case against the officers and the town to a jury where damages could be awarded.
Police conducted a biased investigation that included withholding evidence favorable to Beaman and focusing on Beaman as a suspect to the exclusion of other more viable suspects, his lawyers argue in the recent court filing.
In support of their claim of malicious prosecution, the legal team with Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center argue "a rational juror could find the investigation ended with charges against Alan Beaman because defendants (the officers) selected him as the killer on Day One and worked backwards from there."
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In his previous arguments on behalf of the town and its retired officers, lawyer Thomas DiCianni has denied the defense assertions. A June 13 filing date is set for the town's appellate brief.
As part of the investigation, Freesmeyer conducted more than a dozen time trials to determine if Beaman could have made the round trip from Rockford to the victim's apartment before his mother returned home. Results of one driving test that supported Beaman's alibi were not disclosed, his lawyers contend.
Several alternative suspects, including one of Lockmiller's former boyfriends with a history of drug use and domestic violence, were not carefully scrutinized before police settled on Beaman, according to Beaman's lawyers.
The court filing also accuses Warner of failing to disclose the fact that the other man failed to complete a polygraph test.
"Zayas let the arrest go forward, knowing that the evidence could not justify it," Beaman lawyer David Shapiro argues in the brief.
A ruling on Beaman's allegations is expected later this year.