BLOOMINGTON — Advocates for defendants who have challenged their convictions rallied in front of the McLean County Law and Justice Center Friday, asking the state's attorney to move forward with DNA testing in two cases.
Supporters of Jamie Snow, convicted in 2001 of killing gas station attendant Billy Little, urged prosecutor Jason Chambers to approve ballistics testing on evidence. Tammy Alexander, organizer of a group to exonerate Snow, also argued that several witnesses proved unreliable.
Organizing the rally with Alexander was Andrew Dubois, a Bloomington man who served a dozen years in prison for a sexual assault he maintains he did not commit. He is working to clear his name.
"There's not one shred of evidence to back up the victim's account" of an assault," Alexander said of Dubois' case.
About 25 people attended the event, which included Chicago lawyer Alan Mills, who has handled high-profile class action lawsuits on prison issues. Also attending was James Kluppelberg, exonerated of arson after serving 25 years.
Mills urged DNA testing in the Snow and Barton McNeil cases. McNeil was convicted in 1998 of killing his daughter. He has maintained his innocence and argued his former girlfriend Misook Nowlin, convicted of murder in an unrelated case last year, is a solid suspect.
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"The state's attorney is the only one with control over who goes into prison. The time is right, the movement is coming, so let's do it," Mills said of the testing.
In a statement, Chambers said he agreed to test blood and urine in the McNeil case but is not convinced that testing - aimed to link Nowlin - is necessary.
Nowlin was McNeil's girlfriend "and of course her DNA is going to be in his apartment," said Chambers.
In order for forensic testing to be done, results must produce new evidence that is relevant to the case, he said.
Chambers, who has been in office about 18 months, previously said he inherited the decisions made in their cases. But Chambers also said he does not believe his three predecessors "would have let someone remain in prison if presented with evidence of actual innocence. I would not, either."