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Barry Beach talks next steps for attempt at new trial, getting out of prison

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Jul 05 2013 03:13:09 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 05 2013 04:28:09 PM MDT
DEER LODGE, Mont. -

An update on a story NBC Montana's been following -- convicted killer Barry Beach may have lost another round with the State Supreme Court, but he's not giving up.

In the last few months we reported when the Montana Supreme Court overruled a lower court, yanked away a new trial, and sent Beach back to prison.

Now, from his cell in Deer Lodge, Beach is talking about his hope for the future.

Behind the barbed wire and walls of the Montana State Prison sits Beach in a place he didn't think he'd ever come back to.

“Just that instant sick, sick empty feeling. We didn't expect it to go that route,” said Beach.

In December 2011 a court ruling for a new trial set Beach free after he'd already spent 29 years behind bars for killing Poplar teenager Kim Nees in 1979. Beach was sentenced to 100 years, no parole for the crime he insists he didn't commit.

“I did not kill Kim Nees. I was not present with Kim Nees was murdered. I had no knowledge of the murder of Kim Nees until after the fact, just like everybody else in the public.”

DNA evidence from scene of the murder never linked Beach to the crime. His conviction in 1984 hinged on an earlier confession he made. Beach maintains investigators coerced him to make the statement after hours of intense interrogation. Since his conviction in 1984 he's been fighting for a new trial.

“This is probably the saddest example of justice that the State of Montana has ever put to light.”

During his 18 months out of prison Beach stayed busy not only preparing for a retrial but also running a business. Beach said during his time in MSP he picked up skills that helped him to start a handyman company.  Beach said he had more work than he could handle.

“A year later when I went to work for the Clocktower Inn (in Billings) as the chief engineer in their maintenance department, I had more contracts than I could possibly fulfill.”

That hard work came to an end when Beach went back to prison. After the recent ruling Beach and his attorneys are looking at three options: An appeal with Federal Court, a request to get the Montana Board of Pardons to reconsider his ‘no parole’ status, and filing again the District Court.  

“We've actually had several witnesses come forward,” said Beach. “We're following up on their information and their leads right now and I actually had another witness come forward just two weeks ago.”

The process will likely be a lengthy one but Beach isn't about to give up.

“Believe me I have a reason for fighting still and I had 18 months of a reminder of what I'm fighting for.”

He just hopes it won't take 30 more years to get out prison, 30 years he doesn't have.

“I just want to go home and when my mom passes away I want to be able to go to her funeral. A least give me that. At least give me the ability to bury my mom when that happens.”

Beach has about 90 days to file his appeal with the Federal Court. We’ll keep you updated.