Archive for the ‘The Causes of Wrongful Convictions’ Category


http://wglt.org/…/suspect-convictions-episode-4-true-crime-…

Suspect Convictions Episode 4: True-Crime Experts Give Case Fresh Look

  6 HOURS AGO

The alternative suspect in this case, Misook Wang, has a post-conviction petition in court herself alleging innocence for a murder she allegedly confessed to police about at the time. She’ll be in court in Bloomington, IL next week on Monday, November 20, 2017. There is sure to be a lot of court watchers present on behalf of Barton McNeil and others. You can read police interviews with Misook on freebart.org. Aphrodite Jones is correct in this episode. Misook by action and in interview comes across as very intense and unaware that her behavior and words are strange and off-balance.

Advertisements

http://wglt.org/post/suspect-convictions-episode-3-does-modern-forensics-undercut-sex-assault-motive (Click here)

Scott Reeder and Willis Kern get caught up in this episode discussing the emotionally charged allegation that Christina McNeil was sexually abused before death. The sensationalism of his allegation would certainly have swayed anyone towards convicting Barton McNeil. Yet there was no DNA, no penetration; just a little redness, swelling, and slight blood found in connection with her body. Remember too that police initially regarded Christina’s death as natural. Was her body injured when examined or samples were taken? Body orifices swell after death & Chrisina‘s was nearing rigor mortis.

Prosecutors didn’t charge Barton McNeil with sexual assault, so it’s likely they knew the evidence wasn’t strong enough to support them doing so, but the allegation was used at his trial. Yet, no one, especially Christina’s conscientious mother Tita saw any signs of abuse. We think it’s most likely that Christina was not sexually abused before she died. Reeder and Willis should have discussed how prosecutors were even able to raise this claim or suggest it at trial and how the court allowed it. We think this claim has little credibility. It’s credible to believe that Christina was killed by someone; an intruder, or possibly Misook Knowlin. Suffocating her quietly is possible. It really stretches credibility to believe that the person who killed her also sexually abused her at the same time. Attention is focused on her parents, and we seriously doubt either had a motive to do so.  Hopefully Reeder and Willis will spend time discussing the latitude prosecutors have in raising at trial inflammatory issues like this and using them to convict on slim or no evidence.

More critical is what Reeder mentions happened to Christina’s body: that it was cremated before a defense pathologist could examine it & that the court and Barton’s lawyer both agreed to this.If Barton’s lawyer was a party to this, that supports Barton McNeil’s claim that his attorney failed to represent him properly. Basically, by not opposing immediate cremation and ensuring the pathologist inspected the body, Barton’s attorney allowed the “spoliation” (or destruction) of critical and potentially exculpatory evidence against Barton McNeil.


This is the 2nd episode of Scott Reeder’s Suspect Convictions Podcast detailing the 1998 Bloomington, IL murder case of 3-yr old Christina McNeil. Her father was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison. He is fighting for his exoneration with the help of the IL Innocence Project.

Suspect Convictions Episode 2 (Click on this link)

  NOV 3, 2017

GLT is partnering with the true crime podcast Suspect Convictions to explore the 1998 murder of 3-year-old Bloomington girl Christina McNeil.

Her father was convicted of the crime but has long maintained his innocence, claiming that an ex-girlfriend was the real killer—the same woman later convicted in a separate murder. New episodes air Fridays on GLT’s Sound Ideas. You can also subscribe to the podcast.

A simple window screen and some spider webs may be the clues that exonerate a convicted murderer.

Christina McNeil, 3, who was found dead in her father’s apartment.

Christina McNeil’s lifeless body was found in her father Barton’s Bloomington apartment on June 16, 1998. Barton McNeil argued that cuts in the window screen were proof that someone broke in, killed Christina and snuck out. A judge convicted him anyway, and Barton is now in prison for the crime.

McNeil’s conviction is the focus of Season 2 of Suspect Convictions, a joint reporting project between GLT and investigative journalist Scott Reeder. McNeil maintains his innocence and claims his ex-girlfriend is the real killer. McLean County prosecutors say the right man is behind bars.

The Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) has taken up McNeil’s case and is expected to file motions this fall in hopes of winning him a new trial. John Hanlon, IIP’s executive and legal director, said they’ll introduce new evidence that disproves the prosecution’s claim that Christina was sexually assaulted prior to her death, by showing that “artifacts” found on her body were not indicators of assault.

“This case is a priority for us for one reason, because we’re absolutely certain that Bart McNeil is innocent of this crime,” Hanlon said. “At the end of the day, a judge is going to be hard-pressed to say anything, but this was not a sexual assault situation.”

Episode 2 of Suspect Convictions, which debuted Nov. 3 on GLT, closely examines the window in the bedroom where 3-year-old Christina was killed.

McNeil told police the day of the murder he suspected his ex-girlfriend, Misook (Wang) Nowlin, snuck into his apartment and killed Christina. That theory has taken on new resonance after Nowlin was convicted in 2012 of killing her mother-in-law. Nowlin is currently serving a 55-year prison sentence. She could not be reached for comment.

Barton McNeil is serving his prison sentence at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois.
CREDIT ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Prosecutors claimed spider webs found on the window prove an intruder couldn’t have used that as an entrance, as that would’ve disrupted the webs. McLean County State’s Attorney Jason Chambers’ office has reviewed the case and come to the same conclusion as his predecessor did: McNeil is guilty.

“As I read through it with an open mind and objectively, I became convinced that the conviction was correct,” said Mary Koll, an assistant state’s attorney in Chambers’ office. “I just think (the spider web) is one piece of the puzzle, and it’s one more thing that goes to the common-sense argument that what (McNeil is) suggesting happened here simply could not have.”

The existence of spider webs on the window when police investigated the crime scene doesn’t mean someone didn’t break in, said Todd Blackledge, a biology professor at the University of Akron who’s studied spider webs.

Certain spiders can spin webs relatively quickly, in as little as a half-hour, he said. Others take days.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity. I would not feel comfortable saying a spider web precludes the possibility that window screen was opened that night. I’d need more information,” Blackledge said.


  9 HOURS AGO

WGLT, Bloomington-Normal’s public media, is partnering with the popular true crime podcast Suspect Convictions to explore the 1998 murder of a 3-year-old Bloomington girl, Christina McNeil.

Barton McNeil was convicted of killing his daughter, Christina, but has long maintained his innocence. He says his ex-girlfriend was the real killer—the same woman who 13 years later was convicted in a second McLean County murder. Now serving a life sentence in a southern Illinois prison, McNeil is pursuing exoneration with help from the Illinois Innocence Project.

Season 2 of Suspect Convictions will focus on the McNeil case. Each episode of Suspect Convictions will be broadcast during GLT’s Sound Ideas every Friday at noon and 6 p.m., starting Oct. 27. The podcast will also be available through popular apps like Apple iTunes and Stitcher. Every episode and additional materials will first be available at WGLT.org.

Each episode of Suspect Convictions will be broadcast during GLT’s Sound Ideas every Friday at noon and 6 p.m., starting Oct. 27.

Suspect Convictions producer Scott Reeder will partner with GLT News Director Emeritus Willis Kern on Season 2. The show’s successful first season, chronicling a 1990 Quad Cities murder, was a joint production with WVIK Quad Cities 90.3 FM.

“Scott’s partnership with fellow public radio station WVIK in the Quad Cities for the show’s first season was a great success,” said GLT general manager R.C. McBride. “WGLT is the perfect home for this kind of in-depth journalism. I know our audience will look forward to hearing and reading the work, and I hope this platform provides an opportunity for the GLT news team’s work to find a new audience.”

Reeder is a veteran freelance journalist based in Springfield.

“After 30 years in the news business, I’m honored to work with a journalist of the caliber of Willis Kern. He is a man of integrity and skill,” Reeder said. “Together we will explore intricacies of the murder of Christina McNeil and provide our listeners with differing perspectives on the evidence. We hope to honor the memory of this precious, little girl and help ensure justice is done.”

GLT’s Sound Ideas, the station’s flagship newsmagazine show, airs at noon and 6 p.m. every weekday. It also streams at WGLT.org and is available on the NPR One app.

Suspect Convictions’ first season is available at SuspectConvictions.


“…The DeKalb County judge formally declared 77-year-old Jack McCullough innocent during a court hearing today. The certificate will allow McCullough to sue Illinois for damages for his wrongful conviction in Maria Ridulph’s killing.

A prosecutor concluded last year that evidence backed McCullough’s alibi that he had been 40 miles away when Maria disappeared. A judge agreed, ordering McCullough’s release after he had served four years of a life sentence.

McCullough said at a hearing last week that he wants justice. He says he’s been portrayed “as a monster” and that people still think he’s one…”

http://www.rrstar.com/news/20170412/judge-grants-innocence-certificate-in-1957-illinois-killing

McCullough is correct; even if he is able to collect damages from the State, a lot of people will still regard him as a monster.


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Well, it has been over 9 very long years for our friend, Richard Wanke, who is finally going to trial. His jury selection ended this morning and last minute matters will be heard tomorrow morning. Then, his trial begins Monday with opening statements.

Opening statements from each side will summarize what each side plans to prove by their evidence. Then, from that point forward we get to judge how well they do.

We want to thank everyone who has supported Richard over the years and those who have also contributed and helped with this blog. We hope to see you at trial!

WHERE: 4th floor, old Winnebago County Courthouse, 401 W. State St., Rockford, IL (Take elevators to the fourth floor and follow corridor right around to the very last courtroom; Judge Collins court in room 478.

WHEN: Beginning Monday 2/27/17, at 9am.

PLEASE: Remember to turn cellphones off (they get confiscated if they go off in courtroom), no cameras or recorders are allowed, and please sit on the Defense side (left side of courtroom and behind the defendant) in support of Richard.

Thank-you.

 

 


ROCKFORD — “It’s breathtaking. Oh my goodness,” a Rockford man said after emerging from the Winnebago County Jail into the sunshine this afternoon after more than 23 years behind bars for a murder he and his supporters maintain he didn’t commit.John Horton Jr., 40, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Arthur Castaneda in Rockford. Horton was 17 years old when Castaneda was fatally shot during a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant, located at that time at 2715 Charles St. He was sentenced

Source: John Horton of Rockford free after more than 2 decades in prison


https://www.aclu.org/issues/mass-incarceration/privatization-criminal-justice/private-prisons


Richard’s case was set for jury trial today, but really stood little chance of going forward. The State became aware that one of it’s expert witnesses who lives out of state is unable to appear at trial now in November due to her medical condition. It is a general prerequisite in criminal trials that witnesses testify at trial in-person, because all defendants have the legal right to face their accusers and cross-examine them in-person. Judge Collins knows this and does not want to allow anything wrong to happen in Richard’s case which can be reversed later on appeal.  The State tried to argue that with modern technology, the witness could appear via Skype, but no Illinois caselaw supports this, so Collins was forced, once again, to reset the trial date. Any trial delay, like this which is caused by the State is usually assessed against the State’s deadline to bring someone to trial in a timely manner, but Collins assessed the delay to Richard instead.  However, the State lost in it’s attempt to have her to reschedule the trial to Feb 6, 2016. It will now instead begin on February 21, 2016, barring the occurrence of any other delays.

A number of issues still remain to be decided by Judge Collins anyways concerning what evidence will be allowed to be presented by each side and how the evidence will be presented. Any trial delay now is minor considering, it took the State years to charge this case in the first place. This delay does however, give the defense additional time now to prepare it’s witnesses and evidence and hopefully procure some expert testimony on Richard’s behalf. Richard’s attorneys have cited a lack of time in which to do this and this delay should now take away that excuse.