Illinois Supreme Court dismisses civil suit filed by exonerated Rockford man

By Jim Hagerty

SPRINGFIELD — A lawsuit brought against the town of Normal and three ex-police officers by a Rockford man who wrongfully spent 13 years in prison for the 1993 death of his girlfriend was dismissed by the Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday.

Alan Beaman, of Rockford, claimed police conspired to make a quick arrest in the case after Jennifer Lockmiller, 22, was found strangled and stabbed in her apartment on Aug. 28, 1993. He alleged that officers fixated on him as the killer because he was romantically involved with Lockmiller until a month before she was killed.

Beaman was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994, and sentenced to 50 years in prison, but maintained he was in Rockford, visiting his parents and working at his uncle’s grocery store when police say the murder occurred.

Prosecutors claimed Beaman had time to work a shift at his uncle’s grocery store, make a bank deposit then drive back to Normal and kill Lockmiller.

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2008, when semen found at the scene contained DNA that did not belong to Beaman, who was one of three suspects. It was later discovered that the state failed to disclose that police had been investigating a fourth man who also dated Jennifer Lockmiller and was in Normal when she was killed.

Prosecutors pushed for more than three years to retry Beaman for murder, but were unable to rebuild a solid case.

After his release, Beaman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, seeking damages from the town of Normal and retired officers Tim Freesmeyer, Dave Warner and Frank Zayas. The complaint was later dismissed and refiled in McClean County. That complaint was also dismissed and brought to Illinois Supreme Court this summer.

“Our Founders would be disappointed, and the judges should be ashamed,” Beaman said via Facebook about the decision. “This is not to say that all law enforcement and professionals are bad. I find it unfortunate that our political climate is so polarized against any meaningful discussion of this issue. I believe this polarity aids corruption, foolishly excuses poor quality, and encourages bad police culture.”

Beaman was seeking statutory damages of at least $50,000. With the civil suit dismissed, the only money awarded is the $175,000 he received from the Illinois Court of Claims. Beaman received a certification of innocence in 2013 and a pardon from former Gov. Pat Quinn in 2015.

He is now married with two children and lives in Rockford. R.

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