After spending 18 years in prison, Myon Burrell was released on Tuesday (December 15). He was greeted by family and advocates outside of the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater in Bayport, Minnesota.
In 2002, at age 16, Burrell received a life sentence following the death of Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted his life sentence, reducing it to 20 years. Burrell, now 34 years old, will spend the remaining two years on supervised release, according to The Associated Press.
His case sparked outrage from criminal justice reform advocates and was a point of contention in Senator Amy Klobuchar’s presidential run. Klobuchar was the Hennepin County attorney at the time of Burrell’s conviction and led the office. Her “tough on crime” campaign message was criticized in light of her involvement in Burrell’s case following further investigation.
“This was the right and just decision, and I thank the Pardon Board for their work,” Sen. Klobuchar said in a statement. “Along with others, I had asked for the independent investigation of this case, and as I said when the report was first released, the sentence deserved immediate review. That happened today.”
An investigation by The Associated Press revealed no DNA or fingerprints connected Burrell to the shooting. Video evidence was also uncovered that showed the lead homicide detective on the case gave $500 to a man to give Burrell’s name.
The investigation uncovered further that police didn’t get the surveillance video from a convenience store that Burrell said would have proved his innocence. The store, Cup Foods, was the same store where George Floyd was killed by police in May.
Governor Tim Walz recommended Burrell’s commutation, though one of Burrell’s lawyers, Daniel Guerrero, is looking to get a complete exoneration.
“Myon is certainly not the only innocent person that we have in our prison system here in this country,” Guerrero said to the New York Times. “Our jury system is good, but it’s certainly not infallible.”
Gov. Walz spoke to the victim’s family during the hearing to release Burrell, saying, “there is nothing I can do to ease your pain, and it will not be made better.”
“But,” he continued, “we must act today to recognize the law in this area has changed. Justice is not served by incarcerating a child for his entire lifetime for a horrible mistake committed many years ago.”
Edwards’ father and brother reportedly expressed their opposition to Burrell's release to The Associated Press.
Perry Moriearty, a lawyer for Burrell said he is requesting privacy and “looks forward to going home to his family and just living –– it’s been an awfully long time.”
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