Bullock to let Barry Beach commutation process play out


HELENA, Mont. - Gov. Steve Bullock says it would be inappropriate for him to offer an opinion on Barry Beach's request to be set free before the process plays out.

Beach's attorney sent an application for commutation, or a reduction of sentence, to members of the state Board of Pardons and Parole on Wednesday.

Beach has served nearly 30 years of a 100-year sentence after being convicted in 1983 of the 1979 murder of Kimberly Nees in Poplar.

Beach was released in 2011 for 18 months after a Lewistown judge ruled there was enough new evidence in the case to justify a new trial. That decision was reversed by the state Supreme Court, and Beach went back to jail.

Bullock said he will wait to see what the parole board recommends.