People v. Beaman

Decision Date22 May 2008
Docket NumberNo. 104096.,104096.
Citation890 N.E.2d 500,229 Ill.2d 56
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Alan BEAMAN, Appellant.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

Karen L. Daniel, Jeffrey Urdangen, Chicago, David Lieber, of DLA Piper, LLP, Washington, D.C., Rachel Julis, law student, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield, William A. Yoder, State's Attorney, Bloomington (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, Michael M. Glick, and Michael R. Blankenheim, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


Justice KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion:

The petitioner, Alan Beaman, appeals the dismissal of his postconviction petition. His petition stems from a first degree murder conviction (720 ILCS 5/9-1 (West 1992)), and sentence of 50 years. The appellate court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. No. 4-95-0396 (1996) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). Petitioner then filed his postconviction petition alleging several violations of his constitutional rights. The circuit court of McLean County dismissed the petition following an evidentiary hearing, and the appellate court affirmed the dismissal. 368 Ill.App.3d 759, 306 Ill.Dec. 633, 858 N.E.2d 78. We allowed petitioner's petition for leave to appeal. 210 Ill.2d R. 315(a).

On appeal to this court, petitioner asserts several claims, including that the State violated his constitutional right to due process of law by failing to disclose information about a viable alternative suspect in the murder. We conclude that the State violated petitioner's right to due process under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), by failing to disclose material information about the alternative suspect. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the circuit and appellate courts and remand this matter to the circuit court for a new trial.


Jennifer Lockmiller, an Illinois State University student, was found dead in her apartment in Normal, Illinois, on August 28, 1993. A clock radio electrical cord was wrapped around her neck, and she had been stabbed in the chest with scissors. Her shirt and bra were pushed up around her neck, and her shorts and underwear were pulled down. A box fan was lying across her face.

Seven fingerprints were recovered from the clock radio. Two of the fingerprints were from petitioner, four belonged to Jennifer's boyfriend Michael Swaine, and one was unidentified. Based on the crime scene and Jennifer's class schedule, the State argued that the time of death was shortly after 12 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25, 1993. In a bill of particulars, the State asserted the murder occurred between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on that date.

Prior to trial, the State filed a motion in limine seeking to exclude evidence of Jennifer's relationships with men other than petitioner and Michael Swaine. The State argued that petitioner should not be allowed to offer alternative-suspect evidence unless he could establish it was not remote or speculative. The prosecutor informed the court that the State did not possess nonspeculative evidence of a third-party suspect. The court reserved ruling on the motion.

Before the jury trial, the prosecutor and defense counsel discussed Jennifer's relationship with a person identified as John Doe. The prosecutor informed the court that Doe had "nothing to do with this case." Petitioner conceded that he did not have any specific evidence showing that another person committed the offense. The trial court then granted the motion in limine, ruling that petitioner could not present any evidence of an alternative suspect.

At trial, petitioner testified that he began dating Jennifer in July of 1992. During the following year, petitioner and Jennifer ended and then restarted their relationship a number of times. Petitioner was a student at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington during that time. He often used Jennifer's clock radio to wake up for class. In several letters to Jennifer, petitioner expressed his desire to have a monogamous relationship. The letters indicated that petitioner believed Jennifer was involved with other men.

During the spring semester of the 1993 school year, Jennifer's neighbor heard petitioner pounding on Jennifer's door late at night on several occasions. He also heard petitioner and Jennifer yelling at each other. Petitioner testified that one night in the spring of 1993, Jennifer called and told him that she wanted to end their relationship. He went to Jennifer's apartment to get his compact disc player. When he arrived, he saw John Doe's car in the parking lot. Petitioner pounded on the door to Jennifer's apartment, but she refused to let him inside. Petitioner continued pounding and kicking the door until it broke. After he discovered Jennifer and Doe inside, he took his compact disc player from the apartment and left. Petitioner was yelling while inside the apartment, but he did not touch either Jennifer or Doe.

Additionally, Jennifer and petitioner's roommate, Michael Swaine, began a relationship during the summer of 1993. One night in early July, petitioner suspected that Swaine was at Jennifer's apartment. Petitioner pounded and kicked the door until it broke. He entered the apartment, but could not find Swaine. Petitioner did not touch Jennifer, but confronted her verbally and left after 30 to 45 minutes.

On July 25, 1993, petitioner searched Swaine's room and discovered letters that Jennifer had written to Swaine. Petitioner located Swaine and screamed at him about "seeing" Jennifer. Petitioner then went to Jennifer's apartment, pounded on her door, and when she let him inside, he confronted her by reading the letters. Petitioner emptied a bathroom garbage can on the floor looking for used contraceptives. He left after 15 to 20 minutes. At that point, petitioner considered the relationship to be over.

Petitioner traveled to Cincinnati with a friend that day. While he was in Cincinnati, petitioner talked to Jennifer and Swaine by telephone. Petitioner returned to Normal on August 4, 1993. He stopped at Jennifer's apartment, had a short conversation with her, and drove her to class before saying goodbye. Petitioner then moved back to his parents' home in Rockford, Illinois.

Jennifer called petitioner at his home in Rockford several times, including a call on August 23, 1993. Petitioner testified that Jennifer asked him if they could get back together when the school year began. Petitioner told her "[n]o, we're through," and hung up the telephone. Petitioner's parents testified that petitioner stated Jennifer wanted him to visit her, but petitioner denied that she invited him.

After Jennifer's body was found in her apartment, police detectives interviewed petitioner several times. Petitioner stated he had not seen Jennifer since August 4. When he was asked to account for his activities between August 23 and August 27, petitioner began with August 25. Petitioner wrote that he went to a church function at 7 p.m., followed by a church music rehearsal, and a party. Petitioner then went to Monday, August 23, and wrote, "Jen called, I hung up, about five minutes." Petitioner then filled out the rest of the week. The date of Jennifer's murder had not been announced publicly at that time. Petitioner denied any involvement in the murder.

Petitioner presented evidence that his car was driven 322 miles between August 24 and August 30. That mileage figure was based on an odometer reading on a receipt from Sears, where petitioner purchased tires on August 24, and a photograph of the odometer taken by petitioner's mother on September 1. Petitioner also presented testimony that he drove 305.6 miles that week in his daily activities in Rockford to show that he could not have driven approximately 140 miles to Normal on August 25. The parties presented conflicting testimony on whether petitioner's odometer had been subject to tampering.

Petitioner also testified that he worked a night shift at his uncle's grocery store, ending at 9 a.m. on August 25. He went home, picked up some cash and a check, and drove to his bank to make a deposit. A bank security videotape showed petitioner leaving the bank at 10:11 a.m. After returning from the bank, petitioner went to sleep in his room until approximately 5 p.m.

Telephone records showed that calls were made from the Beaman residence to their church at 10:37 a.m. and to Mitchell Olson's residence at 10:39 a.m. Olson was the church's director of music and youth ministries. The evidence showed that only petitioner or his mother, Carol Beaman, could have made those calls. Petitioner testified that he did not remember making the calls, but it was "entirely possible" that he made them.

Olson testified that petitioner occasionally played music during church services and they had scheduled a rehearsal for the evening of August 25. Olson did not recall speaking with anyone in petitioner's family that morning, but remembered speaking with Carol Beaman when he called the residence around 2:30 or 3 p.m.

Carol Beaman testified that she did not make the phone calls from her residence at 10:37 and 10:39 a.m. She left home around 7 o'clock that morning. She drove to Independence Village, her mother's assisted-living facility, and took her mother to a clinic for blood tests. They returned to Independence Village at 10 a.m. Carol spent 15 to 20 minutes taking her mother to her room and helping her get settled. She then went to a Wal-Mart store located directly across the street. She checked out at 11:10 a.m., as shown by her receipt. The receipt indicated that she purchased copy paper, poster frames, magazine holders, and blue jeans.

After leaving Wal-Mart, she went to other stores. Her final stop was at a grocery store where she checked out at 2:03 p.m. She went directly home because she had perishable items. She subsequently timed the drive from the grocery store to...

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