MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First paragraph, first sentence of release should read: This statement is being issued by Dan Guerrero of Meshbesher & Spence to highlight key facts in support of Myon Burrell’s claim of innocence (District Court File No. 27-CR-02-098794), to applaud Senator Amy Klobuchar for her recent call for an independent investigation, and to rebut the statement of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office dated February 24, 2020 (instead of This statement is being issued by Dan Guerrero of Meshbesher & Spence to highlight key facts in support of Myon Burrell’s claim of innocence (District Court File No. 20CR02-098798), to applaud Senator Amy Klobuchar for her recent call for an independent investigation, and to rebut the statement of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office dated February 24, 2020).
The corrected release reads:
MYON BURRELL'S ATTORNEY AT MESHBESHER & SPENCE RELEASES STATEMENT FOLLOWING AMY KLOBUCHAR'S REQUEST FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
This statement is being issued by Dan Guerrero of Meshbesher & Spence to highlight key facts in support of Myon Burrell’s claim of innocence (District Court File No. 27-CR-02-098794), to applaud Senator Amy Klobuchar for her recent call for an independent investigation, and to rebut the statement of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office dated February 24, 2020.
On November 22, 2002, eleven-year-old Tyesha Edwards was killed in a senseless tragedy after she was struck by a stray bullet in a dispute between two young men alleged to be associated with rival gangs. Myon Burrell played no role in that tragedy, yet he was wrongfully convicted of murder and is currently serving a life sentence. Myon has now spent over seventeen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Contrary to the County Attorney’s insinuations, this case has nothing to do with politics, including Senator Klobuchar’s recent presidential bid. Myon’s case is about one thing and one thing only: freeing an innocent man.
The County’s Attorney’s Office insists in its press release that it is focused on the facts, yet it has failed entirely to rebut the facts set forth in the Associated Press story that shed new light on Myon’s case on February 1, 2020. The facts reveal a very different account than the one that the County Attorney’s Office presents in its press release. Indeed, while Myon was convicted by a jury in his first trial, at least two of those jury members have voiced reservations about the correctness of their verdict. Senator Klobuchar, who was the Hennepin County Attorney when Myon was initially charged and convicted, has rightly called for a reexamination of all the evidence in Myon’s case, both old and new, and has now said “justice requires an independent investigation”, which we commend because the evidence, both old and new, overwhelmingly demonstrates Myon Burrell’s innocence.
Myon Provided Police an Alibi the Day of His Arrest, But the Police Failed to Investigate.
The County Attorney’s Office misstates the record of Myon’s alibi defense. In fact, Myon told detectives in the first interview after his arrest that he was not involved in Tyesha Edwards’ murder and that he was at Cup Foods at the time she was killed. Indeed, Myon provided the name of an acquaintance who spoke with him outside Cup Foods and encouraged the police to secure the surveillance video from Cup Foods to confirm that he was there. Yet, for reasons unknown, the police failed either to follow up concerning this alibi witness or to obtain the potentially exculpatory surveillance footage.
Instead of focusing on its own investigative errors, the County Attorney’s Office points to Myon’s statement during that initial interview that he had been with his mother in Bemidji on the day in question. That statement, which Myon promptly corrected, was made in the context of a lengthy interview in which the police denied thirteen requests by a sixteen-year-old, terrified boy to have his mother present. Those abusive interrogation techniques led in part to Myon’s first conviction being overturned on appeal.
In any event, the alibi that Myon presented in that first meeting is the alibi he is still advancing to this day. Three women have separately confirmed that they saw Myon outside the Cup Foods that day, including the woman who Myon mentioned to the police. Myon’s current defense team has supplied the County Attorney’s Office with affidavits from each of these three women. Based on these statements, Myon could not have been at the site of the shooting when it occurred.
The Testimony of the Intended Target Used to Convict Myon Has Been Discredited.
The County Attorney’s Office points to the testimony of the intended target of the shooting as central to what it wrongly describes as a strong case against Myon. In fact, the testimony of that witness, Timothy Oliver, was implausible at the time it was offered at Myon’s first trial and has since then been wholly discredited.
Oliver’s testimony was always questionable at best since his eyewitness identification of the shooter relied an implausible set of facts. Specifically, Oliver testified that he visually identified Myon when, after being shot at several times, he exposed himself and walked toward the shooter unarmed. Common sense dictates that anyone in that situation would have sought shelter, not walked toward the shooter. Unfortunately, Myon’s trial attorney failed to seriously cross-examine Oliver on this implausible story.
Further, we now know from two of Oliver’s close friends who were present during the shooting that Oliver lied in naming Myon when, in fact, Oliver never saw the shooter. One of the friends, Anthony Collins, signed a statement saying that he saw Oliver laying on the ground such that he could not see who was shooting. Collins also stated that Oliver was armed at the time and thus would have shot back had he seen the shooter. The other friend, Antoine Williams, signed a statement saying that Oliver told him immediately after the shooting that he did not see the shooter. Williams also said that he was prepared to testify for the defense at Myon’s second trial until one of the lead homicide detectives pressured him to reverse course shortly before he was set to testify.
The State Relied on Unreliable Jailhouse Informants to Convict Myon.
As another alleged point in favor of the case against Myon, the County Attorney’s Office points to the testimony of an informant who claimed that Myon confessed to him while they were in jail together. In fact, jailhouse informants are notoriously unreliable witnesses since they have strong incentives to lie in order to get more favorable treatment in their own cases. In Myon’s case, the state used a string of jailhouse informants, almost all of whom were rival gang members, several of whom were serial informants, and one of whom suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and admitted to hearing voices. Not surprisingly, two of these witnesses have told investigators that they lied at trial, with one of them indicating that the police fed him the details of a statement against Burrell.
Myon’s Co-Defendants Have Consistently Stated that Myon Was Not Involved.
The County Attorney’s Office wrongly claims that Myon’s co-defendants, Ike Tyson and Hans Williams, initially told police that Myon was in the car with them during the incident and that Myon was the shooter. In fact, neither man initially placed Myon in the car with them or stated that he was the shooter. It was only after being repeatedly told Myon’s name by police that one of them said he even saw Myon that day. While Tyson was eventually pressured into naming Myon in connection with his own guilty plea, Williams has never stated that Myon was involved.
Notably, in connection with their own plea agreements, both Tyson and Williams were prohibited from testifying in Myon’s trial such that Myon could not call as witnesses the two people with the most direct knowledge of what happened that day. They did, however, both testify at Myon’s second trial that Myon had no involvement whatsoever. Indeed Tyson has since that time consistently held that he was the actual shooter and that Myon was not there, even though it meant Tyson taking personal responsibility for the actual killing and even though testifying against the government could have put his own plea agreement at risk. Tyson’s claim to be the shooter is particularly compelling since he has offered specific details about the shooting that only the actual shooter would know.
Law Enforcement Used Improper Investigative Tactics.
The County Attorney’s Office misleadingly seeks to defend the law enforcement’s practice in this case of offering cash to witnesses who would name Myon. While the County Attorney’s Office points to the common practice of offering rewards through Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest or conviction of a criminal, that is decidedly not what happened in this case. Instead, just three days after Tyesha’s murder, the lead detective is seen on video offering an individual $500 for Myon’s name (and only Myon’s name) even after that person repeatedly stated that he did not know anything. That practice bears no resemblance to a Crime Stoppers reward and reflects an early effort to build a case specifically against Myon instead of dispassionately pursuing the truth.
Finally, the County Attorney’s Office is right to draw attention to the concerns of Tyesha’s family. That family has suffered a horrible loss, and Myon’s claim of innocence in no way should detract from that fact. To the contrary, Myon’s wrongful conviction itself only compounds the injury suffered because the state has never charged or convicted one of the three people involved in this horrible incident. Notably, Tyesha’s step-father, who lived with Tyesha when she was killed, has expressed a willingness to review the case and recently said that if Myon is innocent, he should not be incarcerated. We hope and expect the County Attorney’s Office will review Myon’s case in a neutral and unbiased way to determine the truth. Only in discovering the truth will justice be served for both Tyesha and Myon.
About Meshbesher & Spence
Founded by Ronald I. Meshbesher in 1961, Meshbesher & Spence has been representing individuals and families in crisis for over 50 years. Practice areas of specialization include personal injury, mass torts and criminal defense. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the firm operates locations throughout Minnesota, including Rochester, St. Cloud, Oakdale and Roseville. Learn more at meshbesher.com.