Barry Beach, whose case and claims of innocence have been featured in multiple episodes of Dateline since 2008, is getting a new shot at freedom.
Montana's Board of Pardons and Paroles has scheduled a hearing on Beach's request for clemency on April 29 in Deer Lodge, MT, according to Beach’s attorney Peter Camiel. The hearing is the first step in the process. If the board approves Beach's request, then an investigation and formal hearing will take place at a later date. If the board ultimately grants Beach’s clemency application, it would then be up to Governor Steve Bullock to approve or deny the request.
Beach was convicted of killing 17-year-old Kim Nees in Poplar, MT in 1979. He confessed to the crime, but later claimed his confession was false. Centurion Ministries, an investigative group in Princeton, NJ, took on Beach's case and turned up new evidence that they said implicated others in the murder. The state has stood by Beach’s conviction, but tells Dateline NBC that they will take no position on Beach's clemency application.
Over the years, Beach's appeals were denied, until December 2011 when, after a three-day evidentiary hearing, Judge E. Wayne Phillips granted Beach’s request for a new trial.
Beach was released on his own recognizance, pending the retrial, and spent 18 months living and working in Billings, MT. Last spring, in a 4-3 decision, Montana’s Supreme Court reinstated Beach’s conviction and returned him to state prison, where he has now spent a total of 30 years behind bars.
The April 29 hearing will be open to the public.
Watch Dateline’s latest report here.