Nov 12, 2009 2:19 PM
Barry Beach has been in prison for nearly three decades for the murder of Kimberly Nees in the small Montana community of Poplar - a crime that he says he did not commit.
On the night of her murder in 1979, Nees went to a drive-in movie and then stopped at home around midnight before heading back out. Hours later, her body was found in the Poplar River with multiple blunt force injuries to her head and neck.
Evidence included footprints, a bloody palm print, and a bloody towel found several blocks away; none of the items matches either Nees or Beach.
Over three years later, Beach was in Louisiana visiting his biological father when he was picked up and questioned by police. After what he says was a long interrogation, he confessed to the murder on tape, as well as to three other Louisiana murders. The tape was later erased and the confession transcribed. The other confessions were discarded when they were proven false.
But Beach was convicted of the murder of Nees and is currently serving a 100-year sentence at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.
When asked why he confessed, he replied, "The only answer I can give as to why I confessed is I was in a situation where I was 2300 miles away from home. I was being interrogated on four homicides and I wanted out of there, and at some point and time in that day, I reached a mental point where I thought that was the only way to get out of there."
Of the witnesses out that night, Beach says not one could place him at the scene of the crime around the time Kim Nees was killed.
His mother, Bobbi Clincher, makes the long trip from eastern Montana to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge every month to visit her son, Barry Beach, saying, "All we want is just for Barry to be able to come home."
When asked how often he thinks of Kim Nees and her family, Beach replies, "Every day. I pray for the Nees family every day."
In a recent Board of Pardons and Parole clemency hearing, the Board says the footprint could have belonged to anyone, as the area was a popular place. The board also said the towel could have been unrelated and the palm print could have belonged to a passerby who discovered the scene before police arrived.
Beach said, "It's been 30 years of lies and deceit and misunderstandings that have prevented the true assailants from being brought to justice."
Rumors say a group of jealous girls have admitted to close friends that they beat Nees to death.
The Board says if that were the case, Nees would have sustained injuries all over her body, not just on her head and neck.
Beach's mother says justice does not necessarily mean putting another body in prison, noting, "Some people say justice needs to be served and they need to do the time, but I'm not vengeful about it. I just want my son home."
For Beach, the Board's recent decision is not the end of the road. He said, "This battle of mine - I'll never stop. I wont stop as much for Kim as for myself."
Beach says his case is currently before the state Supreme Court and he is confident that he will be released, adding that he's even begun drafting plans to start his own business.