Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 4:25 PM PST
BLOOMINGTON (25News Now) – A Bloomington man has spent the last 25 years in prison for a crime he maintains he did not commit.
Barton McNeil was convicted for the murder of his daughter in 1998.
Tuesday was a new step in his fight for innocence as Bart’s legal team presented new evidence, they believe will grant him a new trial to clear his name.
PHOTO CAPTION: Bart McNeil’s attorneys present evidence in hopes of new trial in ‘98 death of daughter(25 News)
Barton has long maintained it was his ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin that killed 3-year-old Christina.
However, it wasn’t until 2011 that Bart’s case got a lot of attention, after Misook brutally murdered her mother-in-law.
25 News has been following this case since 1998, when his Bart’s daughter was found dead in his Bloomington apartment.
Christina’s death was initially ruled as natural causes, but Bart called Bloomington police back to the apartment four different times, adamant that his ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin broke into his house to kill her.
This ultimately led to his own arrest and a 100-year prison sentence.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Bart’s case got the attention from the Illinois Innocence Project and Exoneration project, this was after Misook killed her mother-in-law in a gruesome murder.
Tuesday’s hearing was an evidentiary hearing, and for the first time Misook’s daughter took the stand.
Michelle Spencer described Bart as a father figure when she was 8 years old.
“He was nice to me, he talked to me, we use to play computer games together,” said Michelle Spencer.
The reason she was called to testify on Tuesday was because of a possible admission of guilt from Misook to her then-husband, Don Wang in 2011.
“He was just… out of the blue, you know what your mom told me one time? And I just sat there and stared at him and said what, what is that? and he said, that she killed Christina,” said Michelle Spencer.
This conversation allegedly happened at the celebration of life for Don Wang’s mother Linda Tyda, killed by Misook.
Michelle’s stepmother, Dawn Nowlin, was also there for that conversation.
Attorney: “What did Don Wang say to you at that time?”
Dawn Nowlin: “He said that he and Misook was in a big fight and she confessed to killing Christina”.
The state argues that conversation is just hearsay, and that in a police interview with Don Wang, he didn’t make that claim.
Investigator (2012 interview): “Did [Misook] ever at any time confess to you or tell you that she killed Christina?”
Don Wang: “Not that I can remember”.
Bart’s team tried to subpoena Don Wang but he is nowhere to be found following the murder of his mom.
As for Misook — she pleaded the fifth today more than nine times.
Now, the judge will decide if Bart should get a new trial. The judge didn’t say how long he would take to make the decision.
If denied, Bart’s legal team fully intends to appeal the decision and take it to the Illinois appellate court.
Jenise Rebholz will continue to follow this story – for her prison interview with Barton McNeil, click here.
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