On the eve of a hearing to determine whether Barry Beach should be released on bail pending a new murder trial, Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office appealed Fergus County District Court Judge E. Wayne Phillips ruling granting Beach a new trial.
Lawyers for the state also filed a motion asking Phillips to stay Wednesday’s bond hearing in Lewistown and to keep Beach in prison pending the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal.
Beach was transported to Lewistown Tuesday in preparation for the bond hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Phillips last month found that new evidence in the case was credible and that a jury might not have found Beach guilty if the evidence was presented as his original trial.
Lawyers for Beach are asking Phillips to release Beach on his own recognizance pending a new trial.
But in an appeal filed Tuesday the state contends that Phillips failed to corroborate testimony from the post-conviction hearing with evidence from the original trial, including Beach’s “detailed and remorseful confession to the murder.”
Beach has long maintained that his confession was coerced by aggressive Louisiana investigators.
Beach also confessed to being involved in the three Louisiana murders, which turned out to be false. All three of those homicides were committed by others and Beach was never charged in Louisiana with any of those crimes. [A spokesperson for the state contacted me and said Beach never confessed to the three murders in Louisiana and that Beach’s defense lawyer made up the story that Beach confessed then later recanted.]
The state argues that, in addition to failing to consider all the evidence of Beach’s guilt, Phillips wrongly held that Beach’s new trial would include his ability to litigate claims of alleged ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. According to lawyers for the state, such claims are legal claims that cannot be decided by a jury.
“After a thorough and careful review of the district court’s order, the state has decided that it must appeal to the Montana Supreme Court,” Mark Mattioli, Appellate Services Bureau chief for the Montana Department of Justice, said in a statement. “The state is aware of no case in the country where a confessed murderer has been granted a new trial under circumstances like this.”
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