MUSCATINE — In response to a request for a new trial in the case of William Beeman, who has already served 40 years of a life sentence in prison after being convicted of the murder of Michiel Winkel, former Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren has entered a written reply denying evidence was suppressed during the 1982 trial.
Ostergren responded to the request for a new trial filed in June by the Exoneration Project, a Chicago-based project affiliated with the University of Chicago that looks at cases involving hallmarks of wrongful conviction. In this case the project is partnering with the Iowa Public Defender’s Office. According to a June interview with Lindsay Hagy, co-counsel for Beeman, new medical evidence about the state of Winkel’s dead 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.
In the response, Ostergren argues the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County lacks the jurisdiction to grant a new trial, as the motion was made after the two year limitation period to file for a new trial without establishing good cause for the late filing.
“If the court proceeds to the merits, Beeman cannot establish a single element of a valid motion for new trial,” Ostergren wrote. “The county attorney who prosecuted this murder case did not violate Brady. The original defense team knew about the supposedly new evidence (and incorporated it in their case). The motion must be denied.”
Michiel Winkel was found dead near the campground just off a walking trail in Wildcat Den State park on April 26, 1980. Beeman’s attorneys argue new medical evidence about the state of her 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. Her body was unclothed and the victim had engaged in sexual intercourse sometime shortly before or after her death. 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.
Ostergren also argues the new evidence being presented would not have changed the result of Beeman’s trial. According to the reply, Beeman made two incriminating statements during the original investigation, including a confession, which a motion to suppress was denied during the trial and affirmed on appeal. In addition to the confession, he also made an incriminating statement to a transport deputy. Deputy Maynard Eckhardt testified to a statement by Beeman as he was brought back from the courthouse after a pretrial hearing. Dep. Eckhardt testified “On the way back as we were returning from the courthouse, we got just outside the door and the subject of escape came up; and I said I didn’t think Mr. Beeman could escape; and he stated that he felt he could; and I said, again, I didn’t really feel it was possible; and he said, “Well, I could.” Dep. Eckhardt then continued his answer, “He said, “The way I would do it is kick you in the head just the way I did her.” And so I said, “Well, I don’t think you can outrun a bullet.” And Mr. Beeman said, “Well, if I kicked you in the head, you’ll be on the ground dead and you won’t be able to use your gun.”
Beeman’s attorneys argued in 2019 that he has always maintained his innocence and that the confession was coerced at the end of a two-day interrogation.
Of the broken foot argument, Ostergren writes “Which is more likely? Did Beeman break his foot in a tragic birthday cake-candle-blowing-out accident? Or did he break his foot kicking Michiel Winkel in the head? Surely the jury thought what any reasonable person would think from this evidence-the foot injury made Beeman look like a killer.”
Beeman testified during the trial that he had broken his foot in an accident during a birthday celebration.
Beeman’s attorneys have 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.
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