The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said this week that the “evidence is quite strong” in the case of Myon Burrell, an African American man who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 while Sen. Amy Klobuchar served as the county prosecutor.
The Associated Press recently released a year-long investigation into Burrell’s case and said it “uncovered new evidence and myriad inconsistencies” in the prosecution.
“There was no gun, fingerprints, or DNA. Alibis were never seriously pursued. Key evidence has gone missing or was never obtained, including a convenience store surveillance tape that Burrell and others say would have cleared him,” said the report.
Burrell’s co-defendants now claim that Burrell was not at the crime scene during the time of the murder and one has even claimed that he pulled the trigger. The report further revealed that police officers offered cash to potential witnesses and relied on testimony from “jailhouse informants” who received reduced sentences.
As a result of the report, several organizations have called on Klobuchar to suspend her presidential campaign, The Minnesota Sun reported.
In a statement released Monday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the case should not “be treated like a political football.”
“This office will continue to focus on the facts and will not let the politics of the moment influence that review of the facts,” Freeman’s office said. “It also should be noted that the second trial – the conviction for which Mr. Burrell is now in prison – was obtained by this office after Amy Klobuchar had left this office and with no input from her. So, any complaints should be directed to this office, have nothing to do with Sen. Klobuchar, and it is inappropriate and unfair to try to make them an issue in the current presidential race.”
The statement claimed that Burrell “has said a lot of things” and has repeatedly changed his alibi.
“He initially told police he was in Bemidji with his mother at the time of the shooting. Then, during his trial, the second alibi was, he was at a friend’s house playing video games,” the statement continued. “Now, a news report claims Mr. Burrell has a third alibi, that two people are claiming they were with him at a nearby grocery store at the time of the shooting. These two people never came forward and no plausible explanation has been offered why these two people waited 18 years to say anything. Mr. Burrell remains in prison because a jury, then a judge, found him guilty of murdering Tyesha Edwards and the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed.”
In regards to the lack of evidence at the crime scene, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said the evidence against Burrell is actually “quite strong,” which is “why he was convicted twice.”
“Many convictions do not have those elements. Mr. Burrell and his two gang friends drove past Mr. Oliver, who was working on a car and they recognized him as belonging to a rival gang. They returned a short time later and Myon Burrell positioned himself across the street, fired numerous shots, then jumped back into the car and drove off. The gun was never found because Mr. Burrell’s accomplices admitted they got rid of it so there were no surfaces to check for fingerprints or DNA. This is not unusual and no indication of innocence,” said the statement.
The office said it is “common practice in cases that are not solved with an immediate arrest for a reward to be offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.”
“In summary, none of this evidence is new, with the exception of the two people providing a third alibi 18 years later,” the statement concludes. “All of the rest of it was introduced in court, evaluated by the fact-finders (a jury in one, a judge in the other) and the result was a guilty verdict both times. And the verdicts and evidence were reviewed by the Minnesota Supreme Court.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]