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Minnesota Man Sentenced to Life As a Teenager Walks Free After 18 Years As Investigations Find His Murder Conviction Was Tainted

Black Man Walks Free After 18 Years in Prison After Board Commutes His Sentence

Black Man’s Sentence Commuted After 18 Years in Prison, Following Year-Long Investigation that Uncovered Problems With the Original Investigation

https://www.kcrg.com/2020/12/15/minnesota-to-free-man-serving-life-in-childs-2002-death/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/12/15/myon-burrell-minnesota-free-man-2002-death/3914850001/

A Black Minneapolis man walked free on Tuesday for the first time in 18 years, after his life sentence in the 2002 killing of a child was commuted.

The Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted 34-year-old Myon Burrell’s sentence after an investigation by The Associated Press and American Public Media Reports revealed new evidence and problems with the case.

Following the investigation, an independent panel reviewed the case and its findings were published last week.

According to the panel, investigators displayed tunnel vision in handling the case, and overlooked evidence that may have exonerated Burrell, who was 16 years old at the time. He was released from Stillwater prison on Tuesday, just hours after the decision was made, after spending nearly two decades behind bars.

Myon Burrell walked free after his life sentence in the killing of an 11 year old girl as commuted by the Minnesota Board of Pardons. Photo: Free Myon Burrell/ Facebook

The board commuted Burrell’s sentence to 20 years. He will serve the remaining two years on supervised release. His request for a pardon was denied.

Prior to Burrell, Minnesota had not commuted a sentence in a murder conviction in 22 years.

Burrell had steadily claimed his innocence in the 2002 killing of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who was struck by a stray bullet as she sat at the dining room table.

The AP investigation that found there was no hard evidence, including guns, DNA, or fingerprints, that linked Burrell to the killing. In addition, a lead detective offered a man in custody $500 in exchange for Burrell’s name, even if it was just a rumor.

During the investigation of the shooting, police depended on an inconsistent witness, and on jailhouse informants who were rewarded for testifying.

One of Burrell’s co-defendants, Isaiah Tyson, admitted that he was the shooter and that Burrell had “no idea” about it. Tyson is serving a 45-year sentence in the killing of the child.

“Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it,” Burrell said from inside Stillwater prison at his virtual hearing.

He told the board he converted to Islam while behind bars. “I tried to make the best of my situation,” he said. “I started going in and extracting medicine out of the poison. The trials and tribulations I was going through, I tried to get something out of it.”

Myon Burrell walked free after his life sentence in the killing of an 11 year old girl as commuted by the Minnesota Board of Pardons. Photo: Free Myon Burrell/ Facebook

Tyesha’s family was upset by the commuted sentence. Her brother Jimmie Edwards III said his family had been failed by the decision.

“She never got to go to her prom. She never got to go to college. She never got to go to junior high school or high school,” he said. “Her life was taken away at 11. Who’s the victim?”

Gov. Tim Waltz, who recommended the commuted sentence, expressed to Tyesha’s family but cited in his decision that science shows teenage brains work differently than adult brains. “Justice is not served by incarcerating a child for his entire lifetime for a horrible mistake committed many years ago,” he said.

Burrell’s lawyers plan to pursue complete exoneration.

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