MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Board of Pardons has commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell to 20 years. The remainder of his sentence will be served on supervised release, effective immediately.
Burrell, 34, spent 18 years in prison for the killing of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who was hit by a stray bullet in Minneapolis in 2002.
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Burrell was convicted in 2003, and then again in 2008. The first verdict was thrown out, and he was retried.
There were two members of the board of pardons making the decision: Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison. A third member, Chief Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea, recused herself because she had been involved in the case.
Many who supported Burrell over the years were on hand to welcome him home. They had to be silenced so his attorney, Kari Moriarty, could make a statement.
“Mr. Burrell wants to thank the governor and the attorney general for the action they took today on his behalf,” Moriarty said. “He is very happy to have the opportunity to get home to his family and start the next chapter of his life.”
That next chapter will include lots of time with his family, including his son, Myon Burrell Jr.
“This is the best day of my life,” Burrell Jr. said.
His son was only a year old when his father was sentenced.
“It’s like dying and going to heaven,” he said. “I’ve never experienced nothing like that in my lifetime. This is the best feeling I have ever had, I’ve been waiting for this for all my life.”
It was hard for his son and his father to let him go, and Burrell found time to speak to the crowd, many who have supported him for years.
“I thank everybody that came out and supported me. Man, I can’t even explain my gratitude of all my supporters,” Burrell said. “I love y’all, y’all take care and y’all keep on pushing, man. We fighting for this justice. There’s too much injustice going on.”
He was swept away from his supporters, asking for privacy as he begins the next chapter in his life.
“Now the fact he’s here, he ain’t going back!” Burrell Jr. said. “We got him! He’s here! It ain’t ‘Free Myon’ no more. Myon free!”
According to his attorney, Burrell has an opportunity to join a work force training program, a re-entry program that will allow him a job counselor and eventually employment. She says he looks forward to living a life that many of us probably take for granted.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who was in his position during the 2008 trial, has filed a motion saying he supported Burrell’s 45-year-to-life sentence being shortened. A panel of experts led by St. Thomas Professor Mark Osler said in a report filed earlier this month that Burrell’s sentence shouldn’t just be shortened, but that he should be released immediately.
Both Freeman and the report of experts cite new research and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says the mind of teenagers are not fully developed. The report does not make a conclusion on his guilt or innocence but says he should not be in prison anymore.
Burrell’s case came back into the public eye this year because of the presidential campaign of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was Hennepin County’s head prosecutor during the first trial where Burrell was convicted. During the hearing, Attorney General Ellison said that he’s spoken with her, and she supports the commutation. She released this statement early Tuesday evening:
This was the right and just decision, and I thank the Pardon Board for their work. 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. I also urge the Minnesota Conviction Review Unit to continue the re-investigation of the facts of the case.
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