Judge E. Wayne Phillips’ Lewistown courtroom is packed.
Media outlets from across Montana – and even across the pond – have filled the jury box. More reporters have packed the front row of the gallery. The room is filled to capacity with supporters. Everyone is eagerly awaiting Phillips decision.
Will this be the day that formerly convicted murderer Barry Beach walks free?
Follow the courtroom action live at this link.
Late Tuesday afternoon Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office filed a notice of intent to appeal to the Supreme Court Phillips’ November ruling granting Beach a new trial. The state argues that Phillips erred in his legal justification for granting Beach a new trial.
Now they’re asking Phillips to stay today’s scheduled bond hearing pending a decision by the high court.
Beach’s lawyers say they’re still confident that Beach could walk out of prison today.
A reception room at the Yogo Inn has been reserved for the party.
A marquee outside the hotel reads “Welcome Barry Beach and supporters.”
But the outcome of today’s hearing is far from a sure thing. Phillips will have a lot of complex legal arguments to sort through before deciding whether or not to move forward with the bond hearing.
Even if they get to that point, there’s no guarantee Phillips will grant Beach – who is now officially charged with murder, but no longer convicted – bail. And even if he does, there’s no guarantee the bail will be low enough for Beach and his family to afford it.
The buzz in the courtroom at the moment is over the fact that the state’s attorneys, Tammy Plubell and Brant Light, did not make the trip from Helena. They will be appearing via Vision Net video teleconferencing.