- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois appeals court has ruled that McLean County isn’t entitled to be reimbursed $500,000 in legal fees spent defending itself in a federal lawsuit filed by a man wrongfully convicted of murder.

Alan Beaman, of Rockford, filed the lawsuit against the county, the town of Normal and several of its officers and former state’s attorneys Charles Reynard and James Souk. It later was dismissed.

Beaman served 13 years for the slaying of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller before DNA evidence pointed to other suspects.

The ruling issued Tuesday by the by the Fourth District Appellate Court reverses a 2014 decision in the county’s favor, which determined that State’s Self-Insured Risk Retention Group Inc. was obligated to cover legal costs above a $250,000 limit, The (Bloomington) Pantagraph (https://bit.ly/1QtHsjb ) reported. The appeals court’s ruling was sent back to McLean County court for further proceedings.

The county’s insurance group argues that it’s not liable for the legal fees because the personal injury claimed by Beaman in his lawsuit stemmed from his 1994 arrest and wrongful conviction in his former girlfriend’s death. The policy in effect between March 2008 and March 2009 didn’t cover the event that caused Beaman’s injury, the insurer claimed.

But the county claimed Beaman’s injury was covered under a 2008 policy that included false or wrongful arrest, detention, imprisonment or malicious prosecution. Beaman couldn’t allege malicious prosecution until after charges were dismissed, the county argued.

Murder charges against Beaman were dismissed in 2009 following his release from prison and a reversal of his conviction by the Illinois Supreme Court.

A lawsuit filed against the town of Normal and the police officers still is pending in McLean County Circuit Court.

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Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

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