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Beaman v. Freesmeyer

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 13, 2015

ALAN BEAMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
TIM FREESMEYER, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued September 29, 2014.

Page 501

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 1:10-cv-01019 -- Joe Billy McDade, Judge.

For Alan Beaman, Plaintiff - Appellant: Locke E. Bowman III, Attorney, David Michael Shapiro, Attorney, Chicago, IL; Jeffrey Urdangen, Attorney, Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, IL.

For DAVE WARNER, Former Normal Police Detective, FRANK ZAYAS, Former Normal Police Lieutenant, TIM FREESMEYER, Former Normal Police Detective, Town of Normal, Illinois, Defendants - Appellees: Thomas G. DiCianni, Attorney, Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, Dicianni & Krafthefer, P.C., Chicago, IL.

Before EASTERBROOK, WILLIAMS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 502

Williams, Circuit Judge.

In 1995, Alan Beaman was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lockmiller. Thirteen years later, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned his conviction, finding that the state violated his due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), for failure to disclose material information about a viable alternative suspect. After release from prison, Beaman filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against the police officers and prosecutors involved in the investigation of the Lockmiller murder and his prosecution. He alleged that the defendants deliberately conspired to suppress materially exculpatory evidence during the pendency of his criminal case in violation of Brady. Although several defendants were dismissed for various reasons, the remaining defendants--Tim Freesmeyer, Dave Warner, and Frank Zayas, three former police officers in the Normal Police Department, as well as their former employer, the Town of Normal, Illinois--filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts. The motion was granted. On appeal, Beaman argues that the defendants should not have been granted summary judgment, but we disagree. Summary judgment was proper because Beaman did not present enough

Page 503

evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer the existence of a conspiracy to conceal the Brady material. One piece of evidence--the report on alternative suspect Stacey Gates's polygraph test--was not Brady material and its non-disclosure could not form the basis of a complaint. As to the other Brady material--the report on alternative suspect John Murray's polygraph test--which the defendants did not turn over to the prosecution, the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Therefore, we affirm the district court's decision.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Murder Investigation and Beaman's Conviction

On August 28, 1993, Jennifer Lockmiller, a 21-year-old college student at Illinois State University, was found dead in her apartment in Normal, Illinois. Her body was severely decomposed and partially unclothed. The electrical cord of her alarm clock was wrapped around her throat, and a pair of scissors was buried in her chest. An autopsy later revealed that Lockmiller died from ligature strangulation caused bye the alarm clock cord.

Lockmiller's murder quickly became a high profile story in the twin college towns of Normal and Bloomington. Several police officers were involved in the investigation including Tim Freesmeyer, Rob Hospelhorn, Tony Daniels and Dave Warner, detectives in the City of Normal Police Department (" NPD" ), Frank Zayas, a lieutenant in the NPD, and John Brown, a McLean County Deputy Sheriff. Prosecutors Charles Reynard, the McLean County State's Attorney, and James Souk, an Assistant State's Attorney, were also part of the investigative and prosecutorial team.

Because there was no sign of forced entry and nothing was stolen, the investigation immediately focused on people Lockmiller knew and, particularly, men she had dated. The police questioned several of Lockmiller's current and former boyfriends, including Alan Beaman, Michael Swaine, Stacey " Bubba" Gates, and Larbi John Murray. Swaine was Beaman's roommate and Lockmiller's boyfriend at the time of her murder. But Swaine was quickly eliminated as a suspect because he was working at his former high school's bookstore in Elmhurst, Illinois, on the day the detectives identified as the day Lockmiller was killed.[1] Gates, another former boyfriend, had recently moved to Peoria to be closer to Lockmiller, and he and Lockmiller had plans to get together the weekend after her murder. Because of Gates's involvement with Lockmiller, he was asked to take a polygraph report. The report found that Gates gave erratic and inconsistent answers. Detective Warner received the report and turned it over to his supervisor Zayas, but Zayas never turned the report over to ASA Souk or Beaman's defense counsel. Despite the ambiguous polygraph report, Gates was eliminated as a suspect because check-in logs from a Peoria school showed that he was working as a teacher on August 25.

The most important alternative suspect was Murray. Murray was Lockmiller's drug dealer and one of her lovers. Detectives Hospelhorn and Daniels interviewed Murray twice. He first told police that he left town on August 24, the day before Lockmiller died, but his girlfriend Debbie Mackoway told the police that they did not leave until the afternoon of August 25.

Page 504

Murray later corrected his story to the police and said he left on the afternoon of August 25. Murray lived one-and-a-half miles away from Lockmiller's apartment. He claimed to have been at home alone on August 25 before 2 p.m. and thus could not provide any corroboration for or proof of his location.

Murray also had some previous trouble with the law, related to his drug dealer profession and his abuse of Mackoway. Murray had charges pending against him for domestic violence and drug possession with intent to deliver at the time Beaman eventually went to trial for Lockmiller's murder. He had a history of steroid abuse which Mackoway told the police caused him to act erratically. His apartment had been searched by the police several times, both before and after Lockmiller was killed, and cocaine and steroids were found. Because of his relationship with Lockmiller, the police asked Murray to submit to a polygraph examination. The examiner was not able to start the test though, because Murray failed to follow instructions. The examiner later agreed that the refusal to follow instructions could have been intentional. Despite the hole in Murray's alibi, his arrest record, pending charges, and the ambiguous polygraph results, the police and prosecutors decided to focus on Beaman.

Beaman and Lockmiller had dated off and on for a couple of years until about a month before Lockmiller's death. While their relationship was tumultuous, especially considering Lockmiller's involvement with Beaman's roommate, Swaine, Beaman too had an alibi. He was living with his parents in Rockford, two hours away from Normal. However, through a series of controversial time trials, the state established its theory of the case: Beaman drove to Normal on August 25 after visiting a bank in Rockford at 10:11 a.m., killed Lockmiller at noon, and then drove back to Rockford where he was observed by his mother in his room at 2:15 p.m. Beaman's whereabouts were accounted for in Rockford at all times on August 25 except between 10:11 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Freesmeyer was able to establish Beaman's ability to drive to Normal and back during that time by driving over the speed limit throughout the trip. However, he also claimed that Beaman could not have driven from the bank to his parents' home to place two phone calls at 10:37 a.m.--phone calls which, if they had been placed by Beaman, proved he indisputably could not have also driven to Normal to kill Lockmiller--because the bank was too far. In the bank-to-home time trial, though, Freesmeyer took the more trafficked route and followed all speed limits.

Despite the holes in the case, the state decided to prosecute Beaman. At trial, the state argued that Beaman was the only person with both the opportunity and motive to kill Lockmiller. The prosecution presented evidence of three suspects, Beaman, Swaine, and Gates, and then argued that Beaman was the only one who did not have an alibi. Freesmeyer testified regarding the time trials he conducted, in order to establish Beaman's ability to drive to Normal and commit the murder, and Beaman's inability to drive to his parents' home in Rockford to place the phone calls (which would have negated his ability to drive to Normal). Before trial, ASA Souk filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of Lockmiller's relationships with men, other than Beaman and Swaine. At that time, Souk informed the court that Murray had " nothing to do with this case." Souk argued that Beaman should not be ...


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