Recently advocates for two defendants challenging their convictions rallied in front of the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Illinois asking the state attorney to move forward with DNA testing.
Supporters of Jamie Snow, convicted in 2001 of killing gas station attendant Billy Little, urged prosecutor Jason Chambers to approve testing. Tammy Alexander, organizer of a group urging the exoneration of Snow, argued that several witnesses have ultimately proven to be unreliable after recanting their testimony. Jointly organizing the rally with Alexander was Andrew Dubois, a man who served 12 years in prison for a sexual assault he maintains he did not commit. He is currently working to clear his name.
“There’s not one shred of evidence to back up the victim’s account”, Alexander said of the Dubois’ case.
About 30 people attended the rally, including Chicago lawyer Alan Mills, who has handled high-profile prison lawsuits and James Kluppelberg who was exonerated of arson charges after serving 25 years in prison. Mills urged DNA testing in both the Snow and Barton McNeil cases.
McNeil was convicted in 1998 of the murder of his daughter. He has always maintained his innocence and said that he believes his former girlfriend, Misook Nowlin should be the prime suspect. She was convicted of murder in an unrelated case last year.
“The state’s attorney is the only one with control over who goes into prison. The time is right…” Mills said of the testing.
In a statement, Chambers said he agreed to do blood and urine testing in the McNeil case, but is not convinced that testing, aimed at linking Nowlin, is necessary. Chambers said, Nowlin was McNeil’s girlfriend, “of course her DNA is going to be [there].” In order for forensic testing to be done, results must produce new evidence that is relevant, according to Chambers. Chambers who has been in office a year and a half, previously said he inherited the decisions in these two cases, but he does not believe his predecessors “would have let someone remain in prison if presented with evidence of actual innocence…”