Saturday, April 04, 2015

Barry Beach: Investigations point to innocence

The following letter to the editor by Al Smith of Great Falls, Montana was published on April 1, 2015 by the Missoulian.

Lately I've been wondering why our justice system continues to deny mistakes were made 30 years ago during the prosecution of Barry Beach. Then, in disregard to testimony and evidence to the contrary, Montana has continued to defend those mistakes.

This nearly untenable position was recently compromised further by independent investigations. Two investigators, including John Cameron, a now-retired Great Falls Police detective who was instrumental in solving several “cold case” murders, looked at the Beach case. In his investigative report, Cameron concluded Beach is innocent.

Interestingly, two attorneys, Brant Light and Tammy Plubell, who both serve on the staff of Attorney General Tim Fox, know John Cameron and are familiar with his work. Yet the Office of the Attorney General turned a deaf ear to Cameron’s investigation. Cameron’s report is also now in the public domain; still Montana authorities have not acknowledged, let alone commented on the validity of his findings. I find it peculiar.

So are the Montana officials responsible for the continued incarceration of Beach treading on slippery ground?

It’s long been my contention the prosecutor of the Beach case, Marc Racicot and the then-Attorney General, Mike McGrath, plus those who followed them, steadfastly deny what they know to be the truth about the case. Is it done to protect the sterling reputations of those who are to blame for a terrible and costly miscarriage of justice? Just asking!

Additionally, our Montana Attorney General is aware misconduct occurred during and after the prosecution of the Beach case. A list of Articles of Misconduct were delivered with the signatures of over 200 Montanans requesting an investigation. As is typical, no action is pending.

We need a Montana Conviction Integrity Unit to insure a similar injustice is never again allowed to stand in Montana.

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