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Panel Discusses Righting of Wrongful Murder Conviction

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March 9, 2009 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
CHICAGO --- A former appellate judge and a former police officer who played important roles in righting the wrongful murder conviction of Alan Beaman will be among the panelists who will come together at Northwestern University School of Law to discuss what happened.

The panel discussion about the Center on Wrongful Convictions' case will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at the School of Law, Arthur Rubloff Building, Room 140, 375 E. Chicago Ave.

Based solely on circumstantial evidence, Beaman was convicted in 1995 of the murder of Jennifer Lockmiller on Aug. 25, 1993. The jury that found him guilty never heard significant facts in support of his alibi or about a viable alternative suspect.

In May 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court characterized the state's case against Beaman as "tenuous" and found it probable that the jury would have acquitted him if it had known about the other suspect.

The discussion will be hosted by the Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC), part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law. The panelists follow:

Alan Beaman was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1995 despite the lack of any direct evidence of his guilt in Lockmiller's murder. Although the circuit and appellate courts upheld the conviction, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reversed the conviction on May 22, 2008, finding that the trial prosecutor had violated Beaman's rights.

Karen Daniel and Jeffrey Urdangen, senior staff attorneys at the Center on Wrongful Convictions, represented Beaman.

• Robert W. Cook, a retired justice of the Fourth District Appellate Court, dissented both times when Beaman's case came before the Appellate Court and was affirmed. His dissent was cited favorably by the Illinois Supreme Court when it reversed Beaman's conviction in 2008.

• Tony Daniels, retired at the rank of lieutenant from the Normal Police Department, participated (as a detective) in the early stages of the Jennifer Lockmiller homicide investigation. After Beaman's conviction, Daniels publicly said that there was not enough evidence against Beaman and other potential suspects had not been eliminated.

• Ronald Safer, a distinguished former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and now a managing partner of Schiff Hardin LLP, is a member of the Center on Wrongful Conviction's advisory board. Safer will provide a prosecutorial perspective on the case.
Topics: Campus Life