MN Board Commutes Burrell Sentence in Killing

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The Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell, a Black man who was sentenced to life in prison as a minor, NPR reports. Burrell, 16 at the time of his arrest, was accused of fatally shooting an 11-year old girl, who was struck by a stray bullet while doing her homework inside her Minneapolis home. Burrell’s case drew  scrutiny after the Associated Press and American Public Media uncovered new evidence and revealed failures in the Minneapolis Police Department’s handling of the case, including the absence of fingerprint and DNA evidence, and no murder weapon. In 2002, Burrell was interrogated by Minneapolis police officers in a grueling session that lasted three hours. The teenager failed to ask for an attorney. Instead, he asked for his mother thirteen times.

Repeatedly, he said he wasn’t anywhere near the scene of the shooting. He said he and a friend had taken a break from playing video games and walked to a convenience store in search of snacks. There was surveillance footage that could prove it, he told the officers. Police never tracked down the surveillance video. Burrell was certified as an adult and placed in solitary confinement as detectives questioned witnesses and brought in two other suspects in connection with the shooting, one of whom later swore he was the trigger man. Burrell was convicted of killing Tyesha Edwards.  The 2003 conviction was thrown out, and Burrell was retried in 2008. He was again found guilty and sentenced to 45 years to life in prison. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted the 34-year-old’s life sentence to 20 years. “I come before you, a 34-year-old man who spent more than half of his life incarcerated for a crime I didn’t commit,” he told the board.

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