Beaman case to high court begins with timeline of events

Aaron Chambers

The state’s highest court will rule on an appeal from Alan Beaman, the Rockford native convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 1993.

Beaman has long maintained his innocence in the murder, claiming he couldn’t have been at his girlfriend’s apartment near the Illinois State University campus in Normal at the time the state says he was there.

On Tuesday, one of his attorneys asked the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse his conviction because Beaman’s trial attorney was ineffective.

“Alan Beaman was convicted of this murder because his trial attorney failed to do what any reasonable attorney would have done under the circumstances — to bring forward critical evidence,” his attorney, Karen Daniel, told the court.

The justices gave no indication of how they might rule, but several asked pointed questions about the evidence not presented at trial.

Beaman’s girlfriend, 22-year-old college student Jennifer Lockmiller, was found in her apartment Aug. 28, 1993, strangled by a clock radio cord and stabbed with a pair of scissors.

Much of the argument before the state’s highest court Tuesday focused on phone calls made from the Beaman family house in Rockford the morning of the murder and on the amount of time it takes to drive through Rockford. Beaman’s defense team claimed he made the calls and couldn’t have made it to Normal — roughly a two-hour drive — by noon, the official time of Lockmiller’s death.

Prosecutors contend Beaman visited a Rockford bank at 10:11 a.m. and that he wouldn’t have had time to drive across town to make the first call — but he would have had time to drive to Normal by noon.

The first call, at 10:37 a.m., was made to the family’s church and lasted two minutes. The second, at 10:39 a.m., went to Beaman’s youth pastor, Mitchell Olson, and lasted one minute.

The bank was located at 1466 S. Alpine Road. The family home was in the 6800 block of Alvina Road.

Before the murder trial, Normal Police Detective Timothy Freesmeyer timed the drive, which he said took 31 minutes. For Beaman to have made the 10:37 a.m. call, he would have had to make the trip in 26 minutes, prosecutors said.

But defense attorneys noted Tuesday that Freesmeyer drove through downtown Rockford, with all its traffic congestion. Alan Beaman instead opted for the U.S. 20 bypass, they said.

Freesmeyer tested this alternative route, too, taking only 25 minutes. But the trial jury never heard this evidence. Daniel blamed William Beu, Beaman’s trial attorney.

“It’s plain as day that Alan Beaman is an innocent man, that he did not commit the murder that is the subject of this case,” Daniel told the court. “In fact, he was in Rockford at the time of the crime and all that week, doing the activities that he normally did at that time in his life.”

Beu did not return a phone call for comment.

Beaman, now 35, is serving a 50-year sentence.

Michael Blankenheim, an assistant attorney general, told the justices that this evidence would have been favorable to Beaman’s case. But he said it’s not the state’s job to point out flaws in a defense strategy.

“The state is not under an obligation to introduce favorable testimony for the defense or to undercut the prosecution’s own testimony,” he said.

Blankenheim said even if Alan Beaman had made the morning phone calls, he could have made it to Lockmiller’s apartment and back by afternoon. Carol Beaman testified at trial that Alan Beaman’s car was in the driveway of the family’s Rockford home by mid-afternoon.

“The jury was in the position to find that Carol Beaman either had been incorrect or had lied regarding when she returned home from her shopping trip,” he said. “The prosecutor (at trial), while stating that Carol Beaman wasn’t a person who would lie intentionally, might give her son the benefit of the doubt.”

The justices are expected to take several months to decide the case.

Staff writer Aaron Chambers may be reached at 217-782-2959 or


Aug. 25, 1993

College student Jennifer Lockmiller murdered in her apartment near Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal.

May 17, 1994

Alan Beaman charged with murder.

March 16, 1995

Beaman trial begins.

April 1, 1995

After 20 hours of deliberation, a jury convicts Beaman of murder. A judge later sentences him to 50 years in prison.

May 23, 1996

4th District Appellate Court, based in Springfield, upheld Beaman’s conviction.

Nov. 3, 2006

4th District again upheld his conviction.


Illinois Supreme Court heard Beaman’s appeal

Sources: Court records; Register Star archives

Read more in Aaron Chambers' blog, In Chambers.