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Judge laments man's return to prison

By The Associated Press
Published On: May 17 2013 11:03:23 AM MDT
BARRY BEACH
Billings, MONT -

A Montana judge says he fears he did a "soul-wrenching injustice" to a man he freed from prison after 27 years, only to see the man ordered back behind bars by a higher court.
    
Retired state District Judge E. Wayne Phillips tells The Associated Press that his "error" in the case gave 51-year-old Barry Beach a 17-month taste of freedom.
    
The Lewistown judge freed Beach in 2011 and ordered a retrial for the 1979 killing of Beach's teenage classmate on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
    
The Montana Supreme Court this week reversed Phillips, sending Beach back to Montana State Prison for what could be the rest of his life.
    
Phillips says he takes only some consolation in the fact that a three-justice minority supported his ruling.