HELENA (AP) — Barry Beach said he was shocked to learn about Gov. Steve Bullock's letter asking the state parole board to consider commuting his sentence for the 1979 beating death of a Poplar high-school classmate.
Beach, who is serving a 100-year prison sentence for the killing of 17-year-old Kim Nees, has applied for clemency with the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole. A review of the application is scheduled for Tuesday in Deer Lodge.
Last week, Bullock took the unusual step of writing the parole board to ask that the board consider whether Beach has served enough time in prison for a killing that happened when Beach was a juvenile. The governor cited a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that barred juveniles from receiving life sentences, saying they have the capacity to change.
"I was really truly shocked," Beach told Lee Newspapers of Montana from the Montana State Prison on Friday. "I truly am thankful for Gov. Bullock doing so, and I applaud him for the courage to write such a letter — especially since he was the attorney general who filed the appeal to bring me back to prison in the first place."