2014 August 1 News Article – McNeil Defense Pushes For New DNA Testing

McNeil Defense Pushes For New DNA Testing

08/01/2014 10:25 PM
BLOOMINGTON – About 15 years ago, Bloomington resident Barton McNeil was convicted of murdering his three-year-old daughter in June of 1998, but all along he’s maintained his innocence.

A defense asked a judge to consider some new evidence that they believe could make McNeil a free man.

The shackles on Barton McNeil were loosened a bit on Friday, so he could sit behind the defense table in McLean County court.

Ever since he was convicted in 1999 of murdering his three-year-old daughter Christina, he’s been behind bars, but his team of lawyers say the evidence that put him there was only circumstantial, not scientific.

“We don’t think that he committed this crime. He’s served 15 years in prison for this crime we believe he didn’t commit, and we’re committed to trying to help him. And this is the first step, just bringing that evidence to light,” said Gwen Jordan, an attorney for the Illinois Innocence Project.

With the assistance of expert witnesses, Gwen Jordan and John Hanlon told Judge Scott Drazewski that technology has improved substantially since the 1999 trial, and there was plenty of evidence that could and should be considered for the record.

“All of these items are things that they took into evidence that they considered important, that the police did, and the state had tested. The only problem was they had limited amount of testing available,” said Jordan.

Now, thanks to a grant that the Illinois Innocence Project has they want to run additional tests on Christina’s clothing and bed sheets.

The defense wants an incomplete fingerprint found on the window sill, from a possible break-in, to be considered as well, but the fact that these samples won’t be able to pinpoint a time, concerns the prosecution.

“If the DNA that’s found on the window screen, and on the window sill and the bed and on the clothing is the same person, the redundancy of that DNA may indicate that the person may be very likely to be the real perpetrator,” said Jordan.

The judge says McNeil’s defense team has two weeks to get him the necessary court transcripts and evidence. After that, he says he’ll be able to make a decision.

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