Dateline   |  August 02, 2013

'Return to Poplar River' Part 6

The Montana Supreme Court makes a pivotal decision in the Beach case

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for barry beach , billings, montana was far more than just home, after his release from prison, it was some kind of heaven. by may, 2013 , he called this town and this house home for more than a year and a half, waiting to find out if the state would drop the case or retry him or possibly even send him back to prison. and then on may 14th , the decision came down. the montana supreme court ruled against him by a vote of four justices to three. they ruled judge e. wayne phillips gave too much credibility to all the new witnesses that came forward to tell their stories and not enough credibility to barry 's original confession all those years ago, which meant not that they were putting him on trial again, oh, no, it meant they were sending barry straight back to prison to resume his life sentence . now. montana's attorney general declined "dateline's" request for interview, but issued a press release which read in part mr. beach's allegations lacked substance when closely scrutinized. beach's conviction is valid. therefore, like every other person convicted of murder, beach is required to serve his prison sentence .

>> i was stunned.

>> centurian's mcklaas key so confident that the court would rule in barry 's favor, but this?

>> i mean all of us that are convinced of barry 's innocence, it was a kick in the stomach.

>> the warrant was issued within hours. barry insisted on walking to the sheriff's office to turn himself in. the ziglers went with him.

>> he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder, said i hope you know this means i am going to have to go back and serve the rest of my time. i said barry , don't talk like that. i don't want to hear that. very emotional day for us. like losing your family.

>> reaction was swift and shocked and sad, from waitresses at stella's.

>> very heart breaking, i have seen him work here, and he is an active member of society.

>> from barry 's boss.

>> does barry belong in prison, no, absolutely not. i would trust him with my hotel, i would trust him with my family, i would trust him with anything.

>> and of course, barry 's mother bobby who waited decades to get her son back and now he was gone.

>> i was stunned for days afterwards. just couldn't wrap my mind around it.

>> that could be said, too, for barry . back in state prison blue, perhaps for the rest of his life.

>> what's it like to be you these days?

>> sickening. it was the last thing we ever anticipated happening because i went out there and i did everything right.

>> you know, i talked to some people, they said i would have run. i would have just taken off.

>> that wasn't my mindset. my word means everything to me and i've looked you in the eyes before and i've told you i did not kill kim nees. that's my word. you have my promise, that same promise i gave the attorney general's office, my legal team and everybody else around me that i would turn myself in, and as hard as it was to keep my word, my word is my bond.

>> meanwhile, an internet petition campaign collecting signatures, nearly 6,000 at last count. centurian is planning their next move.

>> the federal court i believe will look at this very differently and reverse the conviction which openly will free barry .

>> for now and probably for years, barry is walking these familiar sidewalks, eating the same prison food, enduring the same smells and never ending routine that is life without parole . zig and stella are getting up in years as are his mom.

>> will you see her again on the outside?

>> if there's one thing that's got me concerned, very concerned, it is that. because i will be free again. i am going to walk free again. i just asked my mom to hang on. hang in there with me.

>> his little house back in billings is exactly as he left it, as if he died in a car accident or simply vanished, or as if he thought he might come back someday.

>> i did 29 years and 11 months. i don't want to do another day. but if you don't think i will, i will fight as long as i have breath.