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Montana’s Board of Pardons and Paroles today rejected convicted killer Barry Beach’s application for executive clemency.
Board Chairman Mike McKee made the announcement, saying that the 30 years Beach has served does not mitigate the brutality of his crime.
This was Beach’s second attempt at clemency. His application was also rejected in 2007.
Beach’s quest to clear his name has captured nationwide attention and been endorsed by many of the biggest names in Montana politics.
“Back to the drawing board for us,” said Beach attorney Peter Camiel.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock had indicated that he would free Beach if the Board had voted to move ahead with the clemency application. Montana law only allows the Governor to commute a sentence or grant clemency if the board recommends it. Six weeks ago the Governor took the unusual step of publicly endorsing Beach’s application, saying the reasons for maintaining Beach’s 100-years-without-parole sentence at taxpayer expense “diminish with each passing year.”
Beach confessed to the 1978 murder of high school classmate Kim Nees in Poplar, Montana. Physical evidence at the crime scene pointed away from Beach, and he has recanted his confession. In 2011, a district court judge found sufficient evidence to grant Beach a new trial and freed Beach on bond. Beach lived and worked in Billings for nearly 18 months before Montana’s Supreme Court voted 4-3 to reverse the order for a new trial and return him to the state prison.
Beach is eligible to reapply for clemency in 2019.
Watch Dateline's original report here.