MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is facing new scrutiny over an old case.
The 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards happened when Klobuchar was the Hennepin County attorney. She frequently talks about it during her campaign for president, including debates.
In September, she said in the Houston debate, “There was a kid named Byron Philips that was shot on his front porch. No one had bothered to figure out who did it. When I came into that office, we worked with community groups, we put up billboards, we found the shooter and we put him in jail. We did the same for the killer of a little girl named Tyesha Edwards who was doing her homework at her kitchen table and was shot through the window.”
Now, new information is raising questions about that latter case.
The Associated Press report published Tuesday, in collaboration with American Public Media, raised questions about the convictions, saying that police relied on jailhouse informants who have since recanted their stories, adding that one man who is in prison confessed to the murder. Also noted was the lack of gun, fingerprint or DNA evidence.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the slain girl’s stepfather is among those questioning whether Burrell was guilty.
From the start, 16-year-old Myon Burrell has insisted he was not involved.
“I know for a fact I didn’t do anything,” he said in a 2002 police interrogation.
Tyesha Edwards’ mother, Linda Longino, and then-Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar spoke out together after Burrell was convicted in 2003.
“He won’t be able to hurt anybody else’s children,” Longino said.
“This is what needs to happen when there is this kind of gun, gang violence,” Klobuchar said.
That first verdict, however, was thrown out and in 2008 Burrell was convicted again in a second trial and sentenced to life in prison.
By the time of the second trial, Klobuchar hadn’t been the Hennepin County Attorney for more than a year. In 2006, she was elected a U.S. Senator and Mike Freeman was the county Attorney at the time.
Members of Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, Minneapolis NAACP, Communities United Against Police Brutality and other groups held a news conference Wednesday morning, calling for Klobuchar to suspend her campaign and focus on social justice in the Twin Cities. They say because Klobuchar was the first prosecutor and because she has brought it up on the campaign trail, she should step aside.
“We are here today to call on Amy Klobuchar to immediately end her campaign for president,” Nekima Levy Armstrong said.
Burrell, now in his thirties, is still behind bars and maintains his innocence. He’s rejected all plea deals. His father, Michael Toussaint, also blames Klobuchar.
We reached Tyesha’s sister after the first verdict and she declined to comment.
Klobuchar’s campaign says if there is new evidence it should be reviewed by the Hennepin County Attorney.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office says they have been working with Burrell’s attorneys as well as the authors of the newer Associated Press story. They say no new evidence has been presented to them, and if it is in the future they will evaluate it.
Klobuchar is trailing the four Democrat front-runners — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses. The most recent Iowa polls show her support at about 9%.