County Attorney Freeman offers Burrell reduction in sentence
Prosecutors have offered to reduce Myon Burrell’s 45-year sentence by 15 years in the fatal shooting of Tyesha Edwards who died at her kitchen table while doing homework, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.
“I have reviewed this case thoroughly and I have reached two conclusions,” Freeman said. “First, there is no question that Myon Burrell pulled the trigger that fired the fatal bullet. Second, we have learned much about the brain development of juveniles, especially juvenile males. The minimum sentence of 45 years Mr. Burrell is serving is too long. So, in the interest of justice, we have made the offer to his attorney to drop the 15-year sentence he was to serve for attempted murder after completing his 30-year sentence for Tyesha Edward’s terrible death.”
Freeman made the offer to Daniel Guerrero, Mr. Burrell’s latest lawyer. The letter with the offer was sent on October 22.
The case against Mr. Burrell has a long history. After a bullet pierced the siding of a house and struck 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards as she was sitting inside at a kitchen table doing her homework, an extensive Minneapolis Police investigation determined that Mr. Burrell had shot from across the street at a rival gang member, Timothy Oliver, who was near the house where Tyesha was killed.
Mr. Burrell, who was 16 at the time, was charged with the murder of Tyesha and the attempted murder of Mr. Oliver just a few days after the November 22, 2002 shooting. A jury found him guilty of both charges. He appealed the guilty verdicts. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the jury decision saying Minneapolis police investigators failed to follow proper procedures in giving the Miranda warning.
A new trial was held in March 2008. Mr. Burrell waived a jury and requested the case be heard by a judge. Once again, he was found guilty on both counts.
Another appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court resulted in an August 2009 opinion upholding the trial results but sending it back for a resentencing. Mr. Burrell was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years for killing Tyesha and 15 years for the attempted murder of Oliver after the murder sentence was completed.
Mr. Burrell has exhausted all of his appeals. Only new evidence would allow for a new appeal.
However, in 2012, the United States Supreme Court wrote in Miller v Alabama that scientists now understand there are fundamental differences between a juvenile and an adult mind. In particular, the parts of the brain involved in behavior control do not fully develop until men reach their early 20s.
In reviewing the case, Freeman and other prosecutors noted that Mr. Burrell was 16 years old at the time of the murder and was acting in concert with older, more experienced gang members. Those two factors are the types of mitigating circumstances the Supreme Court envisioned in its Miller decision.