Attorney for woman charged in mother-in-law’s death wants statements tossed

Attorney for woman charged in mother-in-law's death wants statements tossed

2012-05-30T19:09:00ZAttorney for woman charged in mother-in-law's death wants statements tossedBy Edith Brady-Lunny |

16 hours ago • By Edith Brady-Lunny |


Misook Nowlin

Misook Nowlin (McLean County Sheriff's Department)

Misook Nowlin (McLean County Sheriff's Department)


BLOOMINGTON — Statements made by a Bloomington woman accused of killing her mother-in-law should be tossed out because Bloomington police detectives ignored repeated requests for an attorney during questioning, the woman’s defense lawyer argued Wednesday.

Misook Nowlin, 46, is charged with strangling Wenlan Linda Tyda in September.

The 70-year-old victim was reported missing by her husband Sept. 5 from their Crest Hill home. Bloomington police became involved after Crest Hill officers found evidence that Tyda’s phone was last used in Bloomington.

On Sept. 13, Tyda’s body was found in the Des Plaines Forrest Preserve in Will County.

According to prosecutors, Nowlin, who also has been known as Misook Wang, and her husband were having marital problems and she went to her husband’s employer to ask that he be fired — a move that allegedly sparked a dispute between the two women. It’s alleged that Tyda was lured to the Twin Cities to provide Chinese translation services under a phony request set up by Nowlin.

Judge Robert Freitag took the arguments of Nowlin’s lawyer, Brian McEldowney, and Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Sanborn under advisement, saying he expects to have a ruling within a week.

In testimony at Wednesday’s hearing, Bloomington police detective Richard Barkes acknowledged Nowlin was not free to leave the department and that she made several statements related to having a lawyer with her after agreeing to speak with police.

But Nowlin’s remarks about a lawyer were not firm, said Barkes, and were followed up with more statements, many of them incriminating.

In her testimony, Nowlin recalled her feelings during police questioning that initially focused on Tyda’s whereabouts.

“I get so afraid … I don’t know what to do. I have a right to have a lawyer to talk about my case,” she told Freitag.

In his motion asking that the statements not be heard by a jury, McEldowney contended Nowlin’s broken English was enough to assert her constitutional right to remain silent and have a lawyer present.

“A defendant need not articulate a desire for counsel in the manner of a Harvard linguist, but only in a clear enough manner that a reasonable officer in the circumstances would understand the statement to be a request for an attorney,” said McEldowney.

But Sanborn countered that Nowlin’s talk with detectives was voluntary and self-serving.

“It’s clear she wanted to make exculpatory statements to throw them off the track. It was her curiosity that led her down the road to tell what she actually did to her mother-in-law,” said Sanborn.

As McLean County moves forward with its case against Nowlin, a man serving time in prison for smothering his 3-year-old daughter in 1998 wants the state to review her potential connection to the child’s death. Barton McNeill, Nowlin’s former boyfriend, alleges that she should be considered a suspect.

The Downstate Innocence Project based in Springfield is working on McNeil’s case.

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  1. This woman has been in USA for many years….and is not English language deficient. She has a wrap sheet for domestic and child abuse, which probably won’t get into the trial; She knows her rights and is not ignorant. So why feign ignorance in dismissing her confession?

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