Montana governor frees man in 1979 murder - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Montana governor frees man in 1979 murder

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DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) - The latest in the clemency request from a Montana man convicted in a 1979 murder he has long denied (all times local):
    
11:45 a.m.
    
Montana's governor has freed a man who maintained his innocence throughout three decades in prison for the murder of a high school classmate.
    
Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday signed a clemency order allowing for the release of 53-year-old Barry Beach. His release is effective at noon.
    
Beach was convicted of deliberate homicide and sentenced to 100 years in prison for the 1979 beating death of 17-year-old Kimberly Nees on northeastern Montana's Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
    
Bullock noted Beach was a 17-year-old juvenile at the time and had exhibited good behavior in prison.
    
Beach claimed his subsequent confession to Louisiana authorities was coerced. His cause was taken up by hundreds of supporters including Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and former Republican U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns.
    
___
    
11:30 a.m.
    
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to decide Friday if a man imprisoned for a 1979 murder that he's long denied should be released after three decades behind bars.
    
Fifty-three-year-old Barry Beach is serving a 100-year sentence at Montana State Prison in the beating death of high school classmate Kimberly Nees in the small town of Poplar, in northeast Montana.
    
Both Beach and Nees were 17 years old.
    
Beach has said his 1983 confession to the crime to Louisiana authorities was coerced.
    
Bullock has suggested he would look favorably on a clemency request because Beach was a juvenile at the time of the crime and has shown good behavior in prison.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
 

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