Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Barry Beach granted new trial

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Barry Beach has spent 28 years in jail for a crime he says he did not commit. Yesterday, District Judge Wayne Phillips of Lewistown ordered a new trial in Beach's 1985 murder conviction for the 1979 death of Poplar teen Kim Nees.

In light of this news, we're re-posting Jessie McQuillan's award-winning 2006 feature story about Beach's legal battle. After McQuillan's story was published, Beach's conviction received national attention, including a 2008 special on "Dateline NBC." McQuillan is now executive director of the Montana Innocence Project.

Here's how the article, titled "The Wrong Man?", begins:

Barry Beach can’t shake the memory of his first long walk up the steps of the Glasgow courthouse, where a jury would eventually convict him of the brutal murder of Kim Nees, his high-school classmate. As he passed through the courthouse doors that spring day in 1984, he came face to face with a class of waist-high children who stood, along with their teacher escort, and stared.

“That’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live,” Barry says now, his voice shaking, in an interview at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. “The teacher didn’t even know me. I hadn’t been convicted, hadn’t even been in the courtroom yet, and this teacher points me out to these little, tiny kids and says, ‘That’s what a murderer looks like.’”

Read the full feature here.

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