Posted: May 18, 2013 7:36 AM by MTN News
BILLINGS - The leader of the group that helped Barry Beach overturn his 1984 murder convictIon says he will ask the Montana Supreme Court to reconsider the decision it made earlier this week that reversed that ruling.
The 4-3 ruling put Beach back into prison on Tuesday after 16 months of freedom.
Jim McCloskey, the executive director of Centurion Ministries, says Judge E. Wayne Phillips, the judge that freed Beach, had a chance to evaluate the witnesses where the Supreme Court could not.
"The Supreme Court never saw these witnesses," McCloskey said. "They never met them. They never have been able to evaluate their demeanor and what they said and how they said it, their motivation in coming forward. All these elements are missing from the Supreme Court's analysis. Their analysis of Barrry's confession was superficial at best."
McCloskey says the official motion to reconsider will be limited to 10 pages and is due 15 days after the ruling was issued on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, former Montana U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer also provided insight into the potential next step in the decades long legal battle.
Mercer said on Friday that he believes Beach's case would likely not merit reconsideration from the Montana Supreme Court due to the thorough nature of the majority opinion in the 4-3 decision to not grant a retrial.
Also, Mercer believes Beach would have a difficult threshold to cross in getting his case heard by a federal court, as he already failed to receive that relief prior to his release.
However, Mercer believes there is one avenue remaining: Governor Steve Bullock.
Despite the fact that Bullock was Montana's Attorney General at the time of Beach's release on Dec. 7, 2011and was fighting to uphold the state's conviction, Mercer says the governor may consider granting Beach a pardon.
"I think that it's at least arguable that the attorney general, the governor, then Attorney General Bullock, was simply defending what had happened below (in lower courts)," said Mercer. "Now he's in a position where he would be exercising authority on pardon and clemency. That's only vested in him. It's a different role. He could take a fresh look. It's more than simply defending a judgment."
Mercer says even if Beach were to receive a reconsideration from a court and Tuesday's decision was overturned, the length of process would likely mean Beach would still remain incarcerated for several more years.