FreeBart A COMPELLING STORY ABOUT A WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND JUSTICE LEFT UNDONE

Significant Events Timeline

The following is a summary timeline of an affadavit signed by Barton McNeil that was made a part of his September  2005 post conviction appeal.

1993 – 1996   Barton McNeil married to Tita Libres McNeil .

01.11.1995       Christina M. McNeil born to Tita and Barton McNeil.

01.11.1995       Bart separated from wife and was  involved with Misook Nowlin (nee Kim) who was married to Andy Nowlin.  Misook and Andy Nowlin were the parents of nine year old Michelle Nowlin.

04.20.1995      Bart and Misook shared an apartment (1412 Croxton  7A, Bloomington, Illinois) for three years  ending on April 15, 1998.

01.1996           First time Bloomington Police were dispatched to apartment due to Misook’s violent actions.

11.1996           Second time Bloomington Police were dispatched to apartment due to Misook threatening Bart and Christina at knifepoint.

11.18.1996   Misook received anger management domestic violence counseling by AVERT at the urging of the State’s Attorney office.

12.29.1996  Misook also began weekly psychological counseling sessions at the McLean County Center for Human Services at Bart’s insistence.

08.20.1997     Misook assaulted Bart and 2 year old Christina McNeil and was arrested for domestic battery.    Bart testified for Prosecutor Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Wong at Misook’s bench trial for the  domestic battery case which resulted in Misook’s conviction.      Bart received a request from the State’s Attorney office to write a Victim Impact Statement to be presented to the Court at Misook’s sentencing hearing.

04.15.1998      Bart ended his relationship with Misook and moved out of the Croxton Street apartment he shared with her and moved into his own apartment on North Evans Street in Bloomington, Illinois.

04.1998          Misook’s divorce from Andy Nowlin became final.

Three months before Christina's death matters get worse and intolerable as Misook continues her stalking and threats.

04.1998 – 06.16.1998   Misook repeatedly made harrassing phone calls to Bart at home and work, and began stalking him and his ex-wife.

05.1998          Misook’s scheduled domestic battery sentencing date was rescheduled for June 17, 1998 at 3:30PM.  (Note that Christina was killed on June 16)

06.04.1998     Misook phoned Bart several times during the day demanding he see her because she was upset about their relationship.  Later that evening, Misook’s friends (unnamed) made a threatening phone call to Bart.

06.06.1998     After work Bart drove to Misook’s apartment where she had been babysitting his daughter but neither were there and did not come home until approximately 7:00 PM.  When Misook and a girlfriend arrived home,  she informed Bart they had taken Christina out of town (without prior knowledge or approval from Bart or Tita).

06.06.1998     That same night, Andy Nowlin  brought his daughter Michelle Nowlin, to Misook’s apartment to spend the night with Christina. The next morning, upon departure with Christina, Michelle tearfully expressed to Bart that she would not be seeing Christina ever again.

06.07.1998     Bart was hired by Applebee’s Restaurant to start working at their Pekin restaurant on July 1, 1998.  He had been working s a manager at the Red Lobster.  Bart requested from the placement company not to inform Misook, should she inquire.

06.08.1998    An unnamed friend of Misook's revealed to Bart that the phone call on June 6, 1998 was actually a three way call with Misook’s home phone being the silent third party.  That during the entirety of this conversation Misook and her friends heard the conversation that Bart  intended to get back with his former wife Tita.  Misook's friends expressed a threat to get revenge on Bart.

06.09.1998     Nevertheless, the unsuspecting Bart allowed Misook to spend the night at his apartment.  He awoke to find her investigating his computer contents and asked her to leave the apartment.

06.10.1998      In the early morning hours, Bart stated Misook showed up on his doorstep demanding entry.  Although Bart never gave her an apartment key, she had somehow obtained one without his knowledge or permission.  Bart physically blockaded the door to prevent her entry and she then repeatedly phoned him using her cell phone.  She yelled and pounded and kicked at the front door.  Then she went to Christina’s open ground-floor bedroom window and yelled at him through it.

06.13.1998      Bart spent the night at Misook’s apartment due to her suicidal nature.

06.14.1998      Bart was visiting with Tita at her apartment and neighbors stated that they had seen one or more prowlers directly outside Tita’s apartment in the bushes.  The neighbors had called Police but by the time they had arrived, the prowlers were no longer there.

06.15/16.1998  Night of Christina’s murder.

06.15.1998      Bitter break-up at Avanti’s Restaurant in which staff witnessed fighting between Misook and Bart.

06.15.1998      Misook could not account for her whereabouts after 11 PM the evening of Christina's murder.

Bart maintains he was at home with his daughter Christina. He had taken her out for a McDonald's Happy meal earlier.  She went to bed around 10 PM, and he spent the evening at his computer. Several emails were sent to friends of his. There was a thunderstorm that evening.  At midnight his daughter called out and he went to check on her.  She went back to sleep. He fell asleep in the living room.  At  7 AM  Bart discovered his daughter, Christina, deceased in her bedroom of  their home at 1106 North Evans Street, Number 2, Bloomington, Illinois.

06.16.1998      Hours after examination of the scene by investigators, who believed the child died of natural causes, Bart called police detectives back to scene after he discovered recent tampering of his daughter’s open ground floor bedroom window.

06.16.1998      Bart gave detectives a detailed account of events which pertained to a  pattern of stalking and violence directed at him and his daughter, by his highly estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin.

06.17.1998      Misook’s sentencing hearing – Bart was to give victim impact testimony for the assault Misook was convicted of against Bart and Christina McNeil in 1997.  At this hearing, Misook was expected to be given jail time due to her having aprior arrest record.  Instead, ironically on this day Bart was arrested for the murder of his very own daughter and no testimony was given.

06.17.1998      Bart was charged with 2 counts of first degree murder for his daughter’s  death.  At the time of arrest, no significant investigation by detectives had yet occurred, but instead the entire investigation took place in the weeks and months following his arrest.

06.19.1998      Judge Dozier granted a Court Order to preserve the body of Christina McNeil until examined by a defense pathologist, Dr. Kirshner, which was slated to take place on June 27, 1998.

06.23.1998     Judge Dozier’s June 19, 1998 order to preserve the body of Christina McNeil’s body was replaced  by a June 23, 1998 order signed by Judge  Prall and jointly approved by Assistant State’s Attorney Griffin and McLean County Defender Amy Davis.

06.17.1998      Autopsy (State did not disclose time of death until 03.1999).

02.1999          Fingerprint found on wood trim of bedroom window was informed the print  lacked ridge detail to process.

03.04.1999     Offer of Proof resulted in the denial of Bart’s right to present a defense and call witnesses.

03.04.1999     Offer of Proof Hearing.  Court was not aware of facts of Misook’s 06.17.1998 hearing where Bart would be testifying.

03.??.1999      Bart noticed no official death certificate had been issued due to Coroner Dan Brady was refusing to sign death certificate with respect to  the manner of death as he did not want to hold a Coroners Inquest until after the trial.

05.13.1999      Another Pretrial Hearing in which Bart told Court he was not ready to make a decision to waive a Jury Trial.  The Court informed Bart that whatever decision he made, it could not be reversed.

05.28.1999     At another Pretrial Hearing it was stated through microscopy and confirmed by DNA, all hairs that were examined found from the victim’s hands were all  consistent with the victim in that they were of mixed race.  (Their testing only concerned racial origin alone).

07.01.1999      After a three day bench trial before the Honorable Michael Prall, Judge presiding, Bart was found guilty of both counts of first degree murder.

08.11.1999      Bart was sentenced to a mandatory natural life sentence.

 08.17.1999      Bart filed a timely Notice of Appeal to the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District.

10.21.2001      Appellate Court of Illinois denied Bart’s appeal.  Appellate Court of Illinois  overturned sentence of natural life and remanded him back to the Trial Court for resentencing.

12.15.2001      Bart filed a timely pro se Petition to Reconsider to the Appellate Court asking court to reconsider their decision upholding his conviction.  The  Appellate Court denied.

01.05.2002     Bart filed a timely pro se appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court.  The  State Supreme Court declined to hear.

07.18.2002     Bart was resentenced to an extended term on 100 years in prison by the Honorable Judge Michael Prall.

10.15.2002      Bart filed a timely Notice of Appeal concerning his new extended sentence to the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District.

10.24.2002     The Appellate Court upheld Bart’s extended term sentence.  "Death by Prison".

9.28.2005        Barton completes and files his own pro-se (self authored) Post Conviction Appeal.  The 200+ page authored appeal is received by the initial trial Judge Michael Prall and is denied on the same day the appeal is received.

4.15.2006        Barton's court appointed attorney Larry Wells files an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court as relating to his 2005 Post Conviction Appeal with this appeal also denied.

9.5.2011           Misook Nowlin, Barton's former girlfriend and always the person believed by Barton to have committed the smothering murder of his daughter murders again by strangling her mother-in-law with her bare hands in the city of Bloomington.

10.11.2011       Barton learns of Misook's arrest and is able to share this news on-air with local Bloomington radio station WJBC.  A friend of Barton sends the link to Barton's family which in turn springs into action to aid in furthering his case

1.11.2012         The Illinois Innocence Project agrees to take the case given the extraordinary circumstance of Barton having always claimed since the very beginning that his former girlfriend was the true murderer of his daughter and who had now been charged in the manual strangulation of her mother-in-law.

12.18.2012      Misook Nowlin was found guilty by a Jury of four first degree murder charges in the death of her mother-in-law in McLean County.

11.1.2013         Illinois Innocence Project files Petition For Post-Conviction Forensic Testing

8.1.2014          Court hearing is held before the Honorable Judge Scott D. Drazewski with both sides presenting arguments.  The Illinois Innocence Project presents an expert DNA witness as well as an arachnologist (spider and spider web) expert from the University of Ohio testifying that based upon the evidence, that following the victim's murder, that the window screen could have been replaced and soon after the inhabitant spider repairing its web within hours of the murder having taken place as spiders are nocturnal creatures.  During Barton's trial in 1998, police asserted that no assailant could have entered the bedroom based upon their having noticed the presence of a spider web on the window screen.

8.26.2014       Honorable Judge Scott D. Drazewski orders that prior untested evidence be subjected to DNA testing.