get it home page promo

Barry Beach 'keeping his dignity;" arrest warrant expected

2013-05-15T09:57:00Z Barry Beach 'keeping his dignity;" arrest warrant expectedBy Greg Tuttle Billings Gazette Helena Independent Record
May 15, 2013 9:57 am  • 

BILLINGS — Barry Beach, who has lost his bid at exoneration for a murder he says he didn't commit, is "keeping his dignity" in the face of his possible return to prison as early as today, said Jim McCloskey, the founder of a non-profit organization that has backed Beach's legal efforts.

"You can imagine he's distraught," McCloskey said Wednesday morning. "He keeps his chin up and he is keeping his dignity because he knows he's innocent."

Reached by telephone at his office in New Jersey, McCloskey said he spoke with Beach shortly after the Montana Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday overturning his chance for a new trial.

For Beach and his supporters, McCloskey said, the high court's ruling by a 4-3 vote was devastating.

"I'm sickened by this decision," McCloskey said. "It's a nightmare. We're all living a nightmare."

McCloskey said he has been informed that Montana authorities are expected to issue an arrest warrant for Beach, and that could happen as soon as today.

But as of Wednesday morning, Beach remains a free man as he has for the last 18 months since he was released without bond following a 2011 ruling by a district court judge in Lewistown that granted him a new trial in the 1979 murder of Kimberly Nees.

The Montana Attorney General's Office appealed the decision, which was decided Tuesday by the Supreme Court.

Officials at the Attorney General's Office have yet to comment on the ruling. A spokesman for the agency said Wednesday morning that a statement will be released later in the day.

McCloskey said he expects Beach to be taken into custody "very soon."

"Their intent is to issue an arrest warrant for Barry and we don't know when that will happen," he said.

McCloskey said he will fly from New Jersey to Billings later today, arriving here shortly before 11 p.m. He hopes to meet with Beach as soon as he arrives.

Nees, 17, was bludgeoned to death and her body thrown into the Poplar River on June 16, 1979. Her murder remained under investigation until 1983 when Beach, a former classmate, was arrested in Louisiana and confessed to the killing.

He later recanted the confession, saying he was coerced by detectives in Louisiana who were investigating other unsolved murders of young women.

A jury convicted Beach of deliberate homicide in 1984, and he received a sentence of 100 years at Montana State Prison.

Beach served nearly 30 years of his sentence before Judge E. Wayne Phillips in Lewistown ordered him released without bond after granting him a new trial in December 2011.

Beach was released to the custody of former Yellowstone County commissioner James "Ziggy" Ziegler, who met Beach while he was providing a prison ministry.

Beach lived with Ziegler and his wife, Stella, for the first months of his release and worked at the couple's business in downtown Billings, the Best Western Clocktower Inn, as a maintenance manager.

Last July, Phillips allowed Beach to move out of the Ziegler's home and live on his own.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - May 15, 2013 10:27 am
    I have watched some shows regarding Mr. Beach and I found it a little upsetting that he was very careful in how he phrased his denials. "I wasn't there when she died," doesn't actually mean he had nothing to do with it. It sounds evasive to me.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editor@helenair.com. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses

Clipped From The Newspaper