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Beeman to appeal trial denial to the Iowa Supreme Court
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Beeman to appeal trial denial to the Iowa Supreme Court

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William Beeman is escorted into the Clinton County Courthouse in Clinton, Iowa, during his October 1980 trial in the stabbing death of 22-year-old Michiel Winkel, whose body was found at Wildcat Den State Park on April 26, 1980. Now a 62-year-old inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary, Beeman has claimed since 1980 that his confession was false and that he signed it only to end an unrecorded interrogation that left him scared and confused. In 2019, Muscatine Judge Stuart Werling ordered the Muscatine County attorney's office to allow lawyers for Beeman to search all evidence and storage locations for several items that may have semen or blood on them.

MUSCATINE — After a motion for a new trial was rejected by the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, attorneys for a Muscatine man convicted of murder in 1982 are attempting to appeal the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court.

According to court records, attorneys for William Beeman, 62, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court on Oct. 6 after a motion to reconsider and enlarge the denial of a motion for a new trial was denied.

On Oct. 5, Muscatine District Court Judge Stuart Werling denied a motion to reconsider granting Beeman a new trial. In the court documents, Werling said the evidence from the original trial that was in question was “not so favorable to Beeman so as to undermine the confidence in the verdict. The Court’s review of all of the evidentiary claims raised by Beeman, taken collectively, do not create a reasonable probability that the outcome of his trial would have been different.”

According to the motion, the defense feels it presented sufficient evidence for a new trial, from “the discovery of important and material evidence that could not have been discovered or produced at trial with due diligence,” and “when from any other cause the defendant has not received a fair and impartial trial.”

Beeman has served 40 years of a life sentence in prison for the murder of Michiel Winkel in Wildcat Den State Park on April 26, 1980.

He is being represented by attorneys from The Exoneration Project, a Chicago-based organization that provides free legal assistance to people who may have been wrongly convicted. The project has raised issues, including a coerced confession and other suspects. They also introduced scientific evidence. Werling had determined the evidence presented did not constitute newly discovered evidence and that the issues brought up were of no value to the defense.

Beeman’s attorneys argued in 2019 he has always maintained his innocence and the confession was coerced at the end of a two-day interrogation. Beeman’s attorneys also objected to the DNA evidence in the trial going missing. However a law requiring such evidence to be kept was only passed in 2005.

In resistance to the motion to reconsider, Muscatine County attorney James Barry and former Muscatine County attorney Alan Ostergren argued any newly discovered evidence would not change the verdict and that the motion lacks merit and should be denied.

Winkel was found dead near the campground just off a walking trail in the park. Beeman’s attorneys argued new medical evidence about the state of Winkel’s body indicate she could not have died five days earlier on April 21, 1980, as the state alleges.

Defense attorneys claim Beeman had broken his foot on April 22, 1980, and April 21 was the only day Beeman could have killed Winkel under the state’s theory.

Winkel had been kicked in the head and choked before the murderer inflicted a lethal injury by stabbing her 17 times in the chest. Investigators initially focused on several men who were Winkel’s friends or boyfriends but eventually focused on Beeman who was a disc jockey at a nightclub Winkel frequented.

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William Beeman is escorted into the Clinton County Courthouse in Clinton Iowa during his October 1980 trial in the stabbing death of 22-year-o…

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