Appellate court sides with Misook Nowlin in push for new trial for Bloomington murder
Misook Nowlin is entitled to a new lawyer who may file a petition in her bid to secure a new trial on murder charges in the 2011 strangulation death of her mother-in-law, the Fourth District Appellate Court recently ruled. That decision reverses the dismissal of her claim that she received inadequate legal assistance.
Nowlin is serving 55 years in prison for killing Linda Tyda after she lured the victim to Bloomington on false pretenses related to Tyda’s work as a translator.
In its Dec. 8 decision, the appellate court took issue with the level of legal representation Nowlin received from a court-appointed lawyer. Nowlin asserted self-defense in the killing, saying the 70-year-old victim attacked her during a struggle outside Nowlin’s Bloomington sewing shop.
After her conviction, Nowlin argued that her lawyer failed to call a neighbor about the bruises she allegedly saw on Nowlin a short time after the defendant and Tyda struggled. The neighbor’s testimony could have supported Nowlin’s self-defense claim, according to Nowlin’s initial post-conviction petition.
Nowlin’s petition was dismissed in a lower court ruling that found Nowlin presented other self-defense evidence at her trial, making the neighbor’s statements cumulative evidence.
The appellate court disagreed, adding in its ruling that the lawyer also erred by failing to obtain an affidavit from the neighbor for inclusion with the post-conviction petition.
A new lawyer should be appointed to potentially file an amended petition in McLean County court, the court ruled.
The appellate court left in place a McLean County decision related to a defense claim that prosecutors were aware that a jail inmate lied about incriminating statements allegedly made by Nowlin. No evidence exists to support such an allegation, the appellate court agreed.