BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A McLean County judge will allow limited evidence to support arguments by a Bloomington man who has been fighting for years to prove he didn’t kill his 3-year-old daughter.
At a hearing Tuesday, Circuit Judge William Yoder said he would limit the evidence at a third-stage post-conviction hearing to two things — child welfare records and a confession by another person — that were contained in the petition of Barton McNeil, who is seeking to have a new trial. He and his attorneys, from the Illinois Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project are helping him with his case.
Yoder declined to allow other pieces of evidence sought by Team McNeil.
McNeil is in the process of attacking his 25-year-old first-degree murder conviction through the post-conviction process, a form of an appeal that goes through the trial court, not an appellate court. Yoder, speaking from the bench, said he wouldn’t allow in additional evidence sought by McNeil’s attorneys.
The judge noted a post-conviction hearing wasn’t a mini trial on the original issues but only to gauge whether there was enough evidence to suggest that a new trial was needed.
McNeil is serving a 99-year prison sentence for the suffocation death of his daughter Christina in 1998. Since then, McNeil has maintained no wrongdoing and has continued to fight for a new trial.
He has consistently pointed to his ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin, who now goes by Misook Wang, as the one who killed her.
Wang was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison in 2013 for killing her mother-in-law.
However, she too has filed a post-conviction petition and is also in the midst of fighting her conviction as well. Last fall, Yoder ruled that is merely an “interesting fact” and “is in no way relevant to McNeil’s claim of actual innocence.”
McNeil will be back in court on July 19.