Breaking News
More () »

Klobuchar calls for independent review in Myon Burrell case

Klobuchar faced increasing community pressure to re-open a case that became an issue in her Democratic presidential primary run.
Credit: AP Images

MINNEAPOLIS — Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday asked the top prosecutor in Hennepin County to initiate an independent investigation into the case of Myon Burrell, a black Minnesota teen sentenced to life after an 11-year-old black girl was killed by a stray bullet.

In a letter to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Klobuchar said, “As you are aware, significant concerns about the evidence and police investigation have been raised by a press investigation, by members of the Hennepin County community, and by Myon’s family.”

Klobuchar called for an “independent investigation and an independent review of the case,” following increasing community pressure to re-open a case that interrupted her Democratic presidential primary run. 

Last month, The Associated Press published the results of a yearlong investigation that uncovered major flaws in the case, raising questions about whether the 16-year-old shooting suspect was wrongfully convicted.

RELATED: In Klobuchar's past, questions about a teen jailed for life

In her letter to Freeman, Klobuchar said she concluded an independent review is necessary after meeting with Burrell’s family on Tuesday. “As I told them, I believe that if any injustice was done in the quest for justice for Tyesha Edwards, it must be addressed,” she said.

Edwards was killed by a stray bullet in 2002 while doing her homework at her dining room table. Burrell has served 17 years in prison for her murder, all the while insisting he is innocent.

Credit: AP
Myon Burrell, convicted in the murder of Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old girl pierced in the heart by a stray bullet in 2002 while doing homework at her family's dining room table, stands for a photograph at the Stillwater Correctional Facility, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Stillwater, Minn. A growing number of legal experts, community leaders and civil rights activists are worried that the black teenager may have been wrongly convicted in the name of political expediency. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The AP story was published while Klobuchar’s campaign was gaining steam. But she cancelled a rally in her home state two days before the Minnesota Democratic primary after dozens of protesters waved signs and chanted “Free Myon!” Less then 24 hours later, she ended her campaign and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.

RELATED: Klobuchar campaign event canceled after activists hold rally

RELATED: Klobuchar ends Presidential bid, endorses Biden

Burrell was convicted twice, once when Klobuchar was the chief prosecutor. After the verdict was reversed, he was convicted a second time under Freeman’s supervision.

Throughout her political career, Klobuchar has used Burrell’s conviction to trumpet her commitment to racial justice but has faced increasing criticism from the African American community in Minnesota and national media since the AP investigation was published.

RELATED: Imprisoned for life as a teen, Myon Burrell finds his voice

Klobuchar responded by saying, repeatedly, that any new evidence, or flawed old evidence, should be reviewed. But her letter to Freeman was her first concrete step toward making that happen. In her letter, she also said she supports sentencing review efforts taking place in other parts of the country, “to allow the system to look back at sentences to ensure that they are just.”

Following Klobuchar's letter, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office released a statement saying a review of the case is on-going.

"Over the last several months, this office has conducted a significant review of all the evidence of the Myon Burrell case. In addition, we have publicly requested any new information concerning this case, and have reviewed the issues raised. We have previously offered to review any new and additional evidence," the statement said. "At the request of Myon Burrell, our office met with Burrell’s lawyer on Feb. 24 and committed to reviewing the case file and the new information his attorney provided. That review is on-going."

Last month, Freeman released a statement expressing confidence in the work of police and prosecutors in Burrell’s case.

RELATED: Hennepin Co. Attorney Mike Freeman addresses Myon Burrell case

“We believe the right man was convicted in this heinous crime,” he said in a video posted to YouTube last month. “However, as we have said before, if new evidence is submitted to us, we will gladly review it.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out