2021 November 12 News Article – WMBD (CBS) – Barton McNeil could soon have hearing on new evidence

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A Bloomington man serving a 100-year prison sentence for murdering his daughter may soon get a new lease on life.

Barton McNeil has served over 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the 1998 strangulation of his daughter, Christina McNeil.

Since then, McNeil has maintained his innocence in the death and said he had zero involvement.

On Friday, attorneys from the Illinois Innocence Project appeared in a McLean County Courtroom on McNeil’s behalf, as well as a group of family members and other supporters.

Mary Koll, a prosecutor with the state’s attorney’s office, said she talked with McNeil’s innocence team before the hearing. She said the state needed time to decide on whether the state would request dismissal of McNeil’s petition for a new trial, or move directly to an evidentiary hearing–a hearing where both parties will outline new evidence in the case.

Judge William Yoder set a 30-day status hearing and put the next date as December 10th.
McNeil’s cousin, Chris Ross, said he is pleased with Friday’s hearing and hopes things keep trending up for his cousin.

“I’m here to support my cousin; I will be for every future hearing until the point in time that there’s an order he be released and I’ll gladly be there when he’s released from Pinckneyville Correctional Institute and be able to give this guy a hug and he deserves to have his freedom back,” Ross said.

Ross said McNeil was represented by a public defender in the 90s and said he hopes to see Bart have a chance to defend himself in court.

“Usually only about 3% of applicants to innocence projects have their cases taken up by these attorneys on their behalf, so I’m looking forward to my cousin having finally after 23 years truly have his day in court,” Ross said.

McNeil maintains to this day that his ex-girlfriend at the time is responsible for his daughter’s death. She is serving time in prison for an unrelated murder.