Written by John Plestina
Beach is pictured during a speaking engagement while free for 18 months awaiting a new trial in 2012. The Montana Supreme Court rejected a district couort decision putting him back in prison a little more than a year ago.
The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole announced Wednesday, June 14 that it rejected a clemency application from former Poplar resident Barry Beach, dashing Beach’s hopes that the board would hold a full hearing and commute his 100-year sentence with no eligibility for parole so he could have become eligible for parole.
Beach was convicted in 1984 of the 1979 slaying of Poplar High School classmate Kim Nees and dumping her body in the Poplar River. Both were 17 at the time.
Beach’s recent clemency application was partly based on a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that juvenile offenders can no longer be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Beach has maintained for 30 years that he was innocent of the murder and wrongly convicted.
Gov. Steve Bullock wrote a letter in April asking the board to focus on Beach’s worthiness for parole and not on whether he is guilty or innocent just days before the board considered Beach’s request.
Other people supporting clemency included former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns. Numerous people from Wolf Point and Poplar have called for clemency.