By Jim Hagerty
Alan Beaman continues his fight against officers he says framed him for murder in the 1993 strangulation death of his ex-girlfriend.
Beaman wants a judge outside the 11th Judicial Circuit to hear his case because of a potential conflict of interest.
Beaman is suing the Town of Normal and three police officers after he spent 13 years in prison for the murder of 21-year-old Jennifer Lockmiller. His conviction was overturned in 2008 after DNA evidence cleared him.
Lockmiller was found strangled with an electric cord and stabbed with scissors in her apartment near Illinois State University, where she was a student. Beaman was attending Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. He maintains that he was in Rockford visiting his parents when Lockmiller died.
According to the lawsuit, officials fixated on Beaman because he had a romantic relationship with Lockmiller that ended before she was killed. The complaint alleges that detectives and prosecutors conspired against him to make a quick arrest and secure a conviction when he was charged with murder in 1994.
“By fixating on and prosecuting an innocent man, plaintiffs not only robbed (Beaman) of much of his life, but recklessly left Lockmiller’s killer on the streets,” the complaint reads.
Lockmiller’s homicide was only the third on record in Normal.
The initial lawsuit, which named Bill Yoder, Charles Reynard, James Souk and Robert Freitag — all former McLean County prosecutors and current judges — was dismissed in January. Beaman’s attorney, Locke Bowman, filed a new suit in April.
In a motion filed this week, Bowman is requesting a judge from anywhere but Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean or Woodford counties. He may also call Souk, Reynard and Freitag to testify, the motion states.
The three officers — Tim Freesmeyer, Frank Zayas and Dave Warner — deny the allegations that they framed Beaman 20 years ago. Bowman says not only did detectives fumble the investigation, they intentionally sabotaged it.
According to Bowman, “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.”
Freesmeyer and Zayas are now retired.
Beaman was granted a certificate of innocence last April after McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney Pablo Eves told the court the state was dropping all charges. A petition for clemency is pending in the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D). However, his lawyers say Beaman is far from putting the last 20 years completely behind him.
Bowman says his client still battles post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety attacks as a result of his time in prison.
As part of his exoneration, Beaman was awarded $175,000 from the Illinois Court of Claims. He is now married with two children and works as a machinist.
Steve Mahrt, counsel for the Town of Normal, was not available for comment at press time.
Lockmiller’s death remains an open homicide.
From the June 25-July 1, 2014, issue