Judge upholds decision denying new trial for man convicted in 1980 Muscatine murder

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 4:52 PM CDT
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) - A judge has denied William Beeman, serving life in prison in the stabbing death of 22-year-old Michiel Winkel, a new trial.

Beeman was convicted in the 1980 murder of Michiel Winkel, whose nude body was found at Wildcat Den State Park in Muscatine.

Beeman and his attorneys in early June filed a motion requesting a new trial. Judge Stuart Werling presided over a lengthy hearing on the motion.

On Aug. 28, Werling denied the motion for a new trial.

In Sept., Beeman and his attorneys asked the judge to reconsider his denial, arguing Beeman presented sufficient evidence and that reconsideration is required because the judge’s decision to deny Beeman a new trial did not address “several pieces of suppressed, material evidence.”

In a filing on Oct. 5, Werling denied Beeman’s request to the court to reconsider and expand, or reverse its ruling, where he was denied a new trial.

Werling ruled the evidence Beeman and his attorneys claimed was allegedly suppressed did not create “a reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different,” according to the Oct. 5 filing.

On Oct. 6, Beeman and his attorneys filed an appeal on the decision to the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Background on the case:

Winkel’s nude body was found on April 26, 1980. Court records say she had been kicked in the head, choked, and stabbed 17 times in the chest. Winkel also had a laceration to her head. Documents say she had been “sexually assaulted at or near the time of her murder.”

Prosecutors argued during trial that Beeman, a then-disc jockey at a night club, and Winkel randomly met in Muscatine on April 21, 1980. Prosecutors alleged he raped and killed her after she rejected his advances.

Beeman’s lawyers said there were 11 suspects prior to him, and that he has maintained his innocence with the exception of a “coerced confession.”

According to the sworn statement signed by Beeman in 1980, he picked up Winkel on his motorcycle and the two stopped at Wildcat Den State Park, where they were “ready to make love” when she changed her mind.

The filing that contains the sworn statement states as Winkel was getting up, she kneed him and as a reflex, he kicked her in the head with his steel toe boots.

The document, signed by Beeman states, “I don’t remember if I carried her somewhere or just layed [sic] her back down. I don’t remember if I had sex with her or not. I had my knife with me but I don’t remember stabbing her. The next thing I remember is talking to someone at the plaza, I’m not sure who that was… I know I have a temper problem and I feel thats [sic] why I did this. I did not plan or intend to do this. I did not know Michele before this particular night. Since this has happened I checked my boots to see if there was any blood on them and I didn’t see any blood. I was wearing my blue nylon coat with the white pin stripe X think blue jeans and I can’t remember what shirt I had on. I’m not sure who washed my clothes but they have been washed since this happened. I must of wiped the knife off when it happened because I looked at it the next time I used it and I never saw any blood on it.”

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