CHAMPAIGN — An Illinois man who spent more than 13 years in prison before his murder conviction was thrown out will soon get another day in court, this time to determine if he’s innocent.
The trial set for Aug. 6 on the innocence petition by Alan Beaman, convicted of murdering an Illinois State University student in 1993, is a relatively rare step in Illinois. Innocence petitions are usually resolved without a trial, but in this case, prosecutors opposed Beaman’s request.
Beaman’s petition is one of about 25 filed under a 2008 state law that allows people convicted of crimes to ask a court for a finding of innocence after their convictions have been reversed or vacated.
Beaman was serving a 50-year sentence when the Illinois Supreme Court in 2008 reversed his conviction in the death of Jennifer Lockmiller of Decatur who was attending school at Illinois State.
DNA testing requested by the state points to two previously unknown potential suspects in the case. The DNA was found on three pieces of Lockmiller’s clothing and on the cord of the alarm clock believed to have been used to strangle her. Beaman has been excluded as a potential source of the DNA.
“The fact that other men’s DNA was not only inside the victim but also on her clothing means that the contact was not only intimate but recent,” said attorney Karen Daniel, of the Northwestern University School of Law. She is one of Beaman’s attorneys.
Pablo Eves, an assistant state’s attorney in McLean County, has argued that the evidence that Lockmiller had had sexual relations with other men doesn’t mean they were involved in her death.
Beaman was a student at Illinois Wesleyan University in nearby Bloomington when he was arrested in 1994. He has always insisted he was at his parents’ home in Rockford when Lockmiller was killed.
The trial will be heard by Champaign County Judge Jeffrey Ford because of conflicts with the case among the judges in McLean County.