BLOOMINGTON — A man serving 100 years for the 1998 death of his daughter is asking for DNA testing on evidence that he says will point to his former girlfriend, also a convicted murderer, as the girl’s killer.
Lawyers for Barton McNeil filed the motion Monday in McLean County Circuit Court, asking for forensic testing on nine items collected from the Bloomington home where Christina McNeil was killed.
Barton McNeil has claimed that Misook Nowlin killed the child in retaliation for McNeil’s decision to end a relationship with her. Nowlin was convicted last year of killing her mother-in-law, Linda Tyda, shortly after Nowlin and her husband discussed a divorce.
The two scenarios involving breakups are “eerily parallel,” argued defense lawyer John Hanlon, a lawyer with the Illinois Innocence Project based at University of Illinois at Springfield.
McNeil wants testing on blood and urine stains found on the girl’s bed sheet, a fingerprint from the child’s bedroom window and several items of her clothing.
State’s Attorney Jason Chambers said he does not oppose a request he received from McNeil’s lawyers about a year ago for testing on urine stains, but he declined to give an opinion on the other items until his office meets with Hanlon later this week.
“When additional testing could definitively reveal that a convicted person is innocent, then I am all for doing the testing.
No one wants an innocent person in prison.
The difference is when it is more of a fishing expedition and the additional testing gives no definite answers,” said Chambers.
Confident of results
The prosecutor said he is confident results of testing on the urine sample will support the initial guilty verdict.
Hanlon said Monday that the defense “wants the light of day to shine upon the evidence and to test the evidence to see if another person was involved.”
The Innocence Project will cover the costs of the testing by a private lab, if a judge grants the defense motion.
McNeil’s legal team of Hanlon and Gwen Jordan hopes the DNA test results bring an opportunity for the defense to introduce Nowlin as a potential suspect in the case.
Bloomington police interviewed Nowlin after the child’s death but the state failed to follow up with testing of evidence that could link her to the crime, according to the motion.
McNeil told investigators Nowlin had a history of violence that included her own daughter as a victim. McNeil’s family members attended Nowlin’s trial in Bloomington and conducted extensive research as part of their ongoing efforts to exonerate McNeil.