BLOOMINGTON – The twisting tale of a Bloomington man seeking exoneration while serving a 100-year sentence for being convicted of murdering his 3-year-old daughter in 1998 is set to appear before a nationwide television hearing.
Barton McNeil, 62, served 23 years in prison after a judge convicted him in 1999 of murder in the murder of his daughter, Christina McNeil, on June 15, 1998.
Since that day, he claims his innocence and suspects his ex-girlfriend, Misook Nowlin, with whom he broke up earlier in the night, of suffocating his daughter in the middle of the night.
It was only after Nowlin, who now bears the surname Wang, was convicted in 2012 of the murder of his 70-year-old stepmother, Linda Tyda, in September 2011 that more attention was drawn. focused on McNeil’s claim of innocence.
Oxygen Network’s “Snapped: Behind Bars” will air a two-hour episode about the McNeil and Wang convictions. The Pantagraph provided photos for production.
“It means everything to me,” McNeil said of national attention in a recent telephone interview with The Pantagraph of the Pickneyville Correctional Center. “If I stay in jail for the rest of my life, which is still a possibility – I’m not guaranteed to make it home someday – but I’ll tell you, I’m going to sleep so soundly even if I stay in prison for.” the rest of my life at least knowing that the truth is out there, and that’s what I wanted more than anything.
The first broadcast is Saturday at 7 p.m. The episode will also air at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, as well as 5 p.m. on October 2 and 9 a.m. on October 3.
The Normal Theater will also air the episode at 7 p.m. on October 5, followed by a five-person Q&A panel comprised of people from the episode.
Lawyers for McNeil from the Illinois Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project filed her request for post-sentencing relief in February based on new DNA evidence that points to Wang being responsible for Christina’s death.
A McLean County judge recently allowed McNeil’s motion to proceed to court for further consideration. An indictment hearing is scheduled for November 12.
The new evidence includes confirmation of the discovery of Wang’s DNA and hair at the scene of Christina’s death.
McNeil is seeking a formal exoneration for himself as well as a new trial for the death of his daughter, which he says was led by Wang and possibly others. He said the “lonely moment” of Christina’s death has “the confession tattooed on her (Wang) face”.
McNeil and Wang had a “heated” argument at a Bloomington-Normal restaurant earlier on the night of June 15, 1998, which other patrons attended.
He said he broke up with Wang that night out of concern for Christina’s safety “because she (Wang) was fraying and becoming dangerous.”
Wang was to be sentenced on June 17, 1998, two days after Christina’s murder, for an unlawful restraint conviction resulting from Wang physically restraining McNeil as he attempted to remove Christina from Wang’s presence in an exchange. violent the previous year.
“The day I was arrested, I was supposed to be in court to testify against Misook,” McNeil said. “She was to be sentenced on June 17 at 2:30 in the afternoon. I find Christina dead on June 16th.
McNeil said selling the truth proved difficult during his roughly first decade in prison.
“Nobody gave me the time of day, they just assumed the worst, ‘Hey, he must have done something or he wouldn’t be in jail, right?’” Said McNeil.
He added that it wasn’t until a month after Wang killed Tyda in 2011, when he called a WJBC radio show, that people started connecting the cases.
“I broke down in tears,” McNeil said of his phone call to WJBC. “They let me talk for 15 minutes on the air, it was a live call show, I didn’t realize it at the time and I just said, ‘Look, here is the he story, this woman who just killed her mother – the in-laws is the same who killed my daughter, which I have been saying for about ten years.
Wang is serving a 55-year prison sentence for murder in the death of Tyda, whose body was found in a shallow grave in a Des Plaines forest reserve near her home.
A website, freebart.org, has since been created for McNeil containing his story, information on how to write to him and donate.
Photos: Bart McNeil says his ex-girlfriend killed his daughter
Contact Kade Heather at 309-820-3256. Follow him on Twitter: @kadeheather