BLOOMINGTON — Misook Nowlin was sentenced to 55 years in prison Friday for strangling her mother-in-law and concealing the death.
Nowlin, 46, was convicted in December of killing Linda Tyda, 70, who was reported missing from her Crest Hill home on Sept. 5, 2011. Her body was located in a shallow grave in Will County a week after Bloomington police questioned Nowlin.
Nowlin and her husband Don Wang were having marital problems that later included Tyda, according to prosecutors. Under a phony request set up by Nowlin, Tyda was lured to the Twin Cities to provide Chinese translation services.
Nowlin met her when she arrived in Bloomington. According to police, Tyda was choked to death by Nowlin during a struggle.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Workman asked for a 100-year sentence, the maximum allowed.
“She plotted it, she carried it out and every step of the way she tried to hide her conduct,” Workman said.
In summarizing the evidence against Nowlin, McLean County Judge Robert Freitag laid out a trail of deceit that started with the false premise of a translator job. He noted the murder and the burial took place while Nowlin’s young son was in her car.
“Clearly and unequivocally, you are responsible for the death of Linda Tyda,” the judge told Nowlin.
In a brief statement that was difficult to understand because she was sobbing, Nowlin said, “I’m sorry for my mom … I would never do that to her.”
At trial, Nowlin claimed she killed Tyda in self-defense, a claim the judge and jury rejected. She said she arranged the phony job because she wanted to talk with Tyda.
The judge heard testimony from the victim’s son and husband on how the death has impacted their lives.
Don Wang held up a photo of the son he shares with Nowlin, saying “my son is the biggest victim of all. He had a double loss.”
A victim advocate read the statement of Larry Tyda, who was too emotionally overwhelmed to speak about his wife of eight months.
“I have not slept a full night from the date of Sept. 5. I get up at least three times a night and have nightmares about this … I have lost the best thing in my life and I will never forget this until I die,” Tyda wrote.
The sentence is “not going to bring her back. No matter what happens, everybody loses,” he said.
Defense lawyers Brian McEldowney and Carla Barnes offered testimony from Connie Chang, a member of a Bloomington church where Nowlin attended and volunteered. McEldowney asked for a minimum 20-year-prison term.
The sentencing hearing was recorded by news outlets allowed into the courtroom with cameras and microphones under a pilot program established by the Illinois Supreme Court.
A Jan. 31 hearing in the Nowlin case marked the first time cameras were allowed in McLean County courts.