The Great Falls Tribune has done a great job chronicling the Barry Beach case and Beach’s claim that he was wrongfully convicted of the 1979 murder of Kim Nees, a 17-year-old Poplar High School valedictorian. Beach was convicted of Nees’ murder in 1984 and has been serving a life sentence ever since. Beach has maintained his innocence the entire time.
On November 24, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the Roosevelt County District Court’s denial of Beach’s petition for post conviction relief that was based on newly discovered evidence. The Court stated in its opinion:
[W]e remand Beach’s petition to the District Court to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the newly discovered evidence alleged in Beach’s petition. The court must evaluate whether Beach’s alleged new evidence constitutes actual new evidence. The court shall apply a modified version of the five-prong Clark test and the Schlup “clear and convincing” standard to Beach’s alleged newly discovered evidence to determine in the first instance whether Beach’s petition establishes that a “jury could find, in light of the newly discovered evidence,” that Beach actually is innocent of his crime. Redcrow, ¶ 37. The court must assess whether a jury, acting reasonably, would have voted to find Beach guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Schlup, 513 U.S. at 329, 115 S. Ct. at 868. The District Court shall provide a written order of its decision in accordance with the legal standards set forth in this opinion.
The Great Falls Tribune article discusses some of the evidnce in the case. You can read the article here.