A high-profile case prosecuted by Amy Klobuchar when she was a top Minnesota county attorney has come under fire — with questions arising over whether the teen her office put behind bars for life is actually guilty.
Findings from an investigation conducted by the Associated Press challenge the 17-year-old case that the presidential hopeful has promoted to show her commitment to racial justice.
Myon Burrell, who is black and was 16-years-old in 2002, was convicted for firing a stray shot that killed 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who is also black, as she was doing homework at her dining room table in Minneapolis.
During their investigation, the AP looked at over a thousand pages of police records, court transcripts and interrogation tapes, and interviewed dozens of inmates, witnesses, family members, former gang leaders, lawyers and criminal justice experts.
The outlet found that the police and prosecution leaned heavily on a teen rival of Burrell’s who gave conflicting accounts when identifying the shooter.
There was also no murder weapon, fingerprints or DNA evidence and police did not check alibis, the report says.
One of Burrell’s co-defendants, Ike Tyson, who was 21 at the time, admitted in an interview with AP to being the triggerman in the fatal shooting. He also recounted the crime, saying Burrell was never even there.
GLEN STUBBE – STAR TRIBUNE
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar faced new questions Sunday about the 2003 murder conviction of a black teenager in Minneapolis, an emerging issue that forced her to fend off doubts in a nationally televised interview on Fox News one day ahead of the Iowa presidential caucuses.
In an interview from Des Moines, where she is in the final push of her Iowa campaign, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace pressed the former Hennepin County Attorney repeatedly on whether she was aware of questionable evidence and tactics cited in a recent Associated Press investigation into the murder conviction of Myon Burrell, who is serving a life sentence in the 2002 shooting death of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards.
“I didn’t know about this new evidence until I saw the report,” she said. “I couldn’t have. I haven’t been in the office for 12 years.”
Civil rights activists and black community leaders in Minneapolis have called for Klobuchar to end her presidential campaign until new doubts about the case are resolved, and the issue threatens to deepen as she campaigns in Iowa and beyond.
Klobuchar defends role in prosecution of black teenager in stray-bullet murder case
Bettendorf, IA — Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar on Saturday defended her role in the prosecution of an African-American teenager in a case The Associated Press has reported was riddled with flaws.
“All I know is if there’s evidence that must come forward the court has to look at it immediately,” she told reporters.
Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, has previously touted the conviction of Myon Burrell — convicted in a 2002 case for shooting and killing an 11-year-old girl — as an example of her being an aggressive prosecutor who is tough on crime.
The AP, however, dug through thousands of pages of records and found the case leaned heavily on a teen rival of Burrell’s and other jailhouse snitches who gave conflicting accounts when identifying the shooting. It quoted one of Burrell’s co-defendants who confessed to being the gunman and said Burrell was not present when the crime was committed.
A coalition of civil rights groups, including the Minneapolis NAAC and Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, have called on Klobuchar to drop out of the presidential contest for “her role in sending an innocent black teenager to prison for life.”
Klobuchar told reporters after a campaign event in eastern Iowa that the murder of Tyesha Edward was a tragic case of the girl being struck by a stray bullet while doing her homework.
She also said there was a second trial she wasn’t involved with, and that as a prosecutor she worked with the Innocence Project to do a DNA review of past cases.
“Our job, and I’ve always said this, is to convict the guilty but to protect the innocent,” she said. “When I had that job… we looked back because you always want to make sure you do the job right. That’s going to mean if there’s new evidence in this case, it’s got to come out.”