, 2022-07-23 06:00:35,
The case of an Iowa man who has been imprisoned for more than 40 years for murder will be sent back to the district court where he was convicted, based on the potential destruction of DNA evidence that he contended might have cleared him, the Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled.
The Wednesday ruling leaves a narrow window open in the effort of William Beeman, 65, and his team of defenders to win a new trial for him.
Erica Nichols Cook, a public defender and member of Beeman’s legal team, said Beeman now has to decide whether to litigate the destruction of evidence claim in district court or seek further review from the Iowa Supreme Court.
Beeman was found guilty in October 1980 of killing Michiel Winkel, 22, in eastern Iowa. Visitors at Wildcat Den State Park found her body, naked and stabbed 17 times, behind a log April 26, 1980. Prosecutors alleged Beeman raped Winkel before killing her.
In 2019, Beeman — who is represented by the Chicago-based Exoneration Project, the Midwest Innocence Project of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Iowa Public Defender’s Office in Des Moines — took advantage of a new Iowa law to request DNA testing that might prove his innocence.
As a part of the request, Beeman and his lawyers were given access to investigative files related to the case. They claim the files included new evidence unknown to the defense at the time of his trial.
The request also revealed that the rape kit that would have contained the DNA evidence was missing.
In a motion filed in Muscatine County court in 2020, Beeman requested a new trial in his criminal case based on this previously undisclosed evidence.
The motion was denied in October 2020. Beeman appealed and also filed a post-conviction relief application arguing that he was entitled to a new trial. Court documents show Beeman based his request for a new trial in part on “the State’s bad faith ‘destruction of the biological evidence.'”
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruling upheld most of the district courts’ dismissal of Beeman’s request for a new trial. But it called for further proceedings on the question of missing DNA evidence in the case. The ruling said “no one really knows what happened to the evidence or when it disappeared.”
Cook said her team plans to continue…
To read the original article, go to Click here