A Minnesota Man Served 18 Years In Prison For Young Girl’s Death. Here’s Why He Was Released

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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A black Minnesota man who was sentenced to life in prison as a teen after a careless police investigation led to a sentence for life was released Tuesday after spending 18 years behind bars, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Myon Burrell spent 18 years in prison after he was sentenced for killing an 11-year-old girl with a stray bullet, the AP reported. However, new evidence and revelations of significant failures by police investigators led to an independent legal review of Burrell’s case resulting in his release from the Stillwater prison on Tuesday night, according to AP and APM Reports.

The panel found that officers had “tunnel vision” on Burrell when searching for suspects and that there was no purpose in keeping him in prison since he was 16 years old at the time of the incident, the AP reported.

“It’s just a blessing,” Burrell said while looking at the night sky, the AP reported.

No DNA, fingerprint or gun evidence connected Burrell to the incident, according to the AP’s investigation. Police failed to obtain surveillance video from a corner store that Burrell said would have proven his innocence.

A man in police custody was offered $500 for Burrell’s name by the lead homicide detective, video shows, the AP reported. Officers relied on jailhouse informants who would benefit for their testimony and a lone eyewitness who provided contradictory accounts.

Isaiah Tyson, one of Burrell’s co-defendants, admitted to being the shooter and said that Burrell wasn’t there the day of the incident, the AP reported. (RELATED: Minneapolis City Council Cuts The Police Department’s Budget, But Not Number Of Officers)

Tyesha Edwards, 11, was hit by a stray bullet while doing homework with her little sister at home in 2002, the AP reported. Burrell has upheld his innocence since the incident, though he told the panel that his “heart goes out” to Edwards’s family.

Tyesha’s brother, Jimmie Edwards III, said that the justice system failed the family, who was upset about Burrell’s release, the AP reported.

“Her life was taken away at 11. Who’s the victim?” Jimmie asked, the AP reported.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said that science shows a life sentence for a teenager is too extreme and noted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the differences in the teenage and adult brain while recommending Burrell’s commuted sentence, the AP reported.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the developments in science and law as we look at this case,” Walz said, the AP reported.

“We’re not here to relitigate the crime committed against your family that took your daughter away. There is nothing I can do to ease your pain, and it will not be made better. But 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,” Walz told the Edwards family.

Burrell was sentenced during a time “marked by racially charged fear mongering about young ‘super-predators’ who would be violent for the entirety of their lives,” panel chair Mark Osler said, according to the Star Tribune.

Burrell will serve two years on supervised release, the AP reported.

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