BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The fight for a Bloomington man’s freedom was delayed Friday after state prosecutors told a judge they are seeking a dismissal in a retrial for a 1998 murder.
Barton McNeil’s hopes for an evidentiary hearing was delayed almost half a year. McNeil is serving a 100-year prison sentence for the 1998 murder of his daughter, Christina.
At Friday’s 10-minute hearing, McNeil appeared on behalf of his five lawyers from the Illinois Innocence and Illinois Exoneration Projects, who agreed to another hearing in May 2022.
In November, prosecutors told Judge William Yoder the state was considering skipping the file of dismissal and moving straight into a hearing of new evidence. However, Mary Koll said that was no longer the case and the state believes there’s no point in a new trial.
Since 1998, McNeil has maintained his innocence and told WMBD earlier this year that all the evidence places the crime on his ex-girlfriend, Misook Nowlin-Wang. McNeil and his innocence lawyers have also slammed the state’s handling of the 1999 trial and the “evidence” used to convict him.
McNeil told WMBD earlier this year, that in 1999 the State argued he sexually abused his daughter. A claim McNeil has unmistakably denied numerous times.
“I never laid a finger on her or raised my voice,” McNeil said in a September interview from prison with WMBD.
McNeil’s ex-girlfriend, Misook Nowlin is now serving her own prison sentence for the 2011 murder of her mother-in-law, Linda Tyda.
After Friday’s hearing reporters talked with one of McNeil’s former co-workers and friends, Jeff Boyer who backed up McNeil’s claims of Nowlin’s presumed involvement, saying she was “combative” and “combustible”.
Boyer said Friday’s outcome is disappointing but said the fight for justice is far from over.
“It’s the process we have to go through and there’s been some momentum building up to this point; I think that’s the thing to keep in perspective here is that getting justice for Christina and for Bart is going to take some time,” Boyer said. “If they can go through the process and present their evidence then hopefully this man will be set free because there’s a lot of us here that knew Bart as a kind and loving person.”
The State has until April 1 to file its motion to dismiss the appeal. McNeil’s case will be heard again on May 14, 2022.
McNeil is expected to be there in person.