Attorney for woman charged in mother-in-law's death wants statements tossed

2012-05-30T19:09:00Z 2012-12-08T18:19:48Z Attorney for woman charged in mother-in-law's death wants statements tossedBy Edith Brady-Lunny | eblunny@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON — Statements made by a Bloomington woman accused of killing her mother-in-law should be tossed out because Bloomington police detectives ignored repeated requests for an attorney during questioning, the woman’s defense lawyer argued Wednesday.

Misook Nowlin, 46, is charged with strangling Wenlan Linda Tyda in September.

The 70-year-old victim was reported missing by her husband Sept. 5 from their Crest Hill home. Bloomington police became involved after Crest Hill officers found evidence that Tyda’s phone was last used in Bloomington.

On Sept. 13, Tyda’s body was found in the Des Plaines Forrest Preserve in Will County.

According to prosecutors, Nowlin, who also has been known as Misook Wang, and her husband were having marital problems and she went to her husband’s employer to ask that he be fired — a move that allegedly sparked a dispute between the two women. It’s alleged that Tyda was lured to the Twin Cities to provide Chinese translation services under a phony request set up by Nowlin.

Judge Robert Freitag took the arguments of Nowlin’s lawyer, Brian McEldowney, and Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Sanborn under advisement, saying he expects to have a ruling within a week.

In testimony at Wednesday’s hearing, Bloomington police detective Richard Barkes acknowledged Nowlin was not free to leave the department and that she made several statements related to having a lawyer with her after agreeing to speak with police.

But Nowlin’s remarks about a lawyer were not firm, said Barkes, and were followed up with more statements, many of them incriminating.

In her testimony, Nowlin recalled her feelings during police questioning that initially focused on Tyda’s whereabouts.

“I get so afraid … I don’t know what to do. I have a right to have a lawyer to talk about my case,” she told Freitag.

In his motion asking that the statements not be heard by a jury, McEldowney contended Nowlin’s broken English was enough to assert her constitutional right to remain silent and have a lawyer present.

“A defendant need not articulate a desire for counsel in the manner of a Harvard linguist, but only in a clear enough manner that a reasonable officer in the circumstances would understand the statement to be a request for an attorney,” said McEldowney.

But Sanborn countered that Nowlin’s talk with detectives was voluntary and self-serving.

“It’s clear she wanted to make exculpatory statements to throw them off the track. It was her curiosity that led her down the road to tell what she actually did to her mother-in-law,” said Sanborn.

As McLean County moves forward with its case against Nowlin, a man serving time in prison for smothering his 3-year-old daughter in 1998 wants the state to review her potential connection to the child’s death. Barton McNeill, Nowlin’s former boyfriend, alleges that she should be considered a suspect.

The Downstate Innocence Project based in Springfield is working on McNeil’s case.

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(6) Comments

  1. bob miller
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    bob miller - July 06, 2012 2:05 am
    Misook Nowlin (Wang) moved to the United States in 1988 and married U.S. Serviceman Andy Nowlin with whom she met when he toured South Korea where she is from. She was convicted in McLean County for retail theft under $150 in 1991 (Case # 91 CF 154). Of another Retail Theft Subsequent Offense Felony in 1996 (96 CF 374). And then what became a progression fo more violent convictions... Domestic Battery against Barton McNeil and his now-deceased daugher Christina McNeil in 1998 with whom they lived together for 3 years (97 CM 2016). She was convicted for assault against her own daughter Michele Nowlin in 1999 (98 CF 962) who was nine years old at the time and was born in the U.S. She was a lead suspect in the murder of Christina McNeil having been administered a polygraph exam for which she failed. She was charged with Felony theft in 2011 just a month prior to the murder of Ms. Wenlan Linda Tyda. She owned a business for many years, Kim's Sewing. And her English, after living in Bloomington for 20+ years that she could not properly ask for an attorney? It seems all too common that persons born in a foreign country feign language barriers and try to work our system to their advantage.
  2. EricaC
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    EricaC - June 19, 2012 5:32 pm
    Doesn't interrogate mean asking questions? It wasn't like they were at Starbucks having a discussion. This is going against the rights as an American Citizen. No matter what the case is. If you ask for a lawyer you have the right to remain silent. Seems like that detective needs to have his degree looked into.
  3. notsoclueless
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    notsoclueless - June 09, 2012 11:42 am
    a request for a lawyer means....stop questioning until a lawyer is present....period. The police violate that right constantly.
  4. calvin
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    calvin - June 06, 2012 9:36 am
    Let's see - believe the police or believe her? Just because she was talking doesn't mean they were interrogating her at that point. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
  5. plainjane777
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    plainjane777 - June 01, 2012 9:04 am
    It is incredible to me that the interrogation continued after she requested an attorney. Is this common practice at the BPD? "But her remarks for a lawyer were not firm?" How do you "sort of" ask for an attorney? Considering she is not only connected to this crime, but possibly one that happened in 1998 that someone else is serving time for...I don't know. Just seems ridiculous to me that they would take that kind of risk. Maybe I'm missing something.
  6. bob miller
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    bob miller - May 31, 2012 1:03 pm
    At the time of Linda Tyda's murder, Misook was estranged from her husband Don Wang. At the time of Christina McNeil's murder for which Barton McNeil was convicted, she was estranged from him in a violent break up witnessed by their waitress and cashier at a local Bloomington restaurant the same night she was murdered. Barton was to testify against her in her domestic assault sentencing hearing that was to occur two days after Christina was murdered in which she was expected to receive jail time. Coincidence?
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