Gov. Quinn issues pardon for man falsely accused of murdering ex-girlfriend

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Gov. Pat Quinn talks about his tenure as governor of Illinois earlier this month during a speech to the City Club of Chicago. | Ashlee Rezin /Sun-Times Media, Ashlee Rezin) O

Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday issued his first executive pardon based on innocence as one of his last official acts before leaving office.

“It is the first pardon the governor ever issued and is the last step in officially wiping a person’s slate clean,” said a top Sneed source, who also added the governor granted clemency to 232 people and denied it to 262 others before leaving office.

The recipent of Quinn’s pardon is Alan Beaman, of Rockford, who was accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1993 and spent 13 of his  50-year prison sentence behind bars before his case was thrown out in 2008 for prosecutorial misconduct.

The charges were dismissed in 2009; Beaman was then exonerated by DNA evidence, and in 2013 he was granted a certificate of innocence by the judge.

A gubernatorial pardon is the last step to clear his name entirely.

Beaman, who had continued his education while in prison, now works as a master electrician and is married with two children.

Since taking office, Quinn has acted on 4,766 clemency petitions — more than any other governor.

Quinn grants clemencies about three or four times a year and routinely grants groups of petitions around the holidays. Most recently, Quinn granted 179 and denied 425 clemency petitions on Christmas Eve.

When he took office six years ago, Quinn faced a backlog of 2,838 petitions.

“No other governor has acted on more than Gov. Quinn,” said a governor’s spokesman.

Two high-profile men who have been bidding for clemency were not on Quinn’s list for acceptance or denial: Gordon “Randy” Steidl, who served 17 years for a 1986 double murder, only to be freed in 2004 when a judge ruled that the evidence favored an acquittal — and  Willie Johnson, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison earlier this year for recanting his testimony about a 1992 double murder.

Twenty-three former prosecutors and judges, including former Gov. Jim Thompson, sent a letter to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in April, saying that Johnson’s prosecution could prevent people who regret their false testimony from coming forward.

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