Minnesota man seeks to toss his murder conviction Sen. Amy Klobuchar stood behind for 17 years
A report revealed that the case was littered with inconsistencies.
A Minneapolis inmate who spent more than half his life so far behind bars says he was wrongfully convicted for murder and blames presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, in part, for standing by what he calls an injustice.
Myon Burrell, now 33, was convicted for the 2002 first-degree murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who was shot by a stray bullet as she was doing homework inside her house. Burrell, who was 16 when he was arrested, as well as Hans Williams and Ike Tyson, two men in their early 20s at the time and not previously known to Burrell, were convicted and sentenced the following year.
At the time, Klobuchar was the chief prosecutor of Hennepin County, where the case took place.
“I could put in an appeal and say, hey, listen, give me less time and let me out right now. But then I would be taking responsibility for a crime I didn't commit. And I can never do that," Burrell said in a jailhouse interview with ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis.
In May of 2003, a jury convicted Burrell of first degree murder. Klobuchar was no longer in the prosecutor’s office when Burrell was convicted a second time in 2008, but she has boasted her record as a "tough on crime" prosecutor while running for the U.S. Senate in 2006.
In her current presidential run, she pointed to how she handled Burrell’s case at the September Democratic debate in Houston to describe her efforts to bring justice for shooting victims in the African American community.
“When I came into that office, we worked with the community groups, we put up billboards, we found the shooter and we put him in jail,” she said of another case involving an African American victim. “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.”
But in early February, an Associated Press report claimed there were several flaws with Burrell's case at the time of the investigation -- flaws that Burrell claims should lead to his exoneration.
With no weapon found, the case against Burrell largely relied on testimony from a teen rival who according to the AP changed his story several times about who he said he saw at the crime scene. He has since died. The AP investigation also questioned police tactics caught on camera, such as an investigator offering cash for names of potential suspects, even for hearsay from someone who said he knew nothing about the crime.
In a statement to ABC News, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office maintained, in part, "none of this evidence is new, with the exception of the two people providing a third alibi 18 years later. All of the rest of it was introduced in court, evaluated by the fact-finders (a jury in one, a judge in the other) and the result was a guilty verdict both times. And the verdicts and evidence were reviewed by the Minnesota Supreme Court."
"Former Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, now a U.S. Senator and a candidate for president of the United States, has publicly stated that if new evidence is found, it should be reviewed," they said. "As we have consistently stated in other cases throughout the years and we restate it here, we are always willing to look at new evidence. Mr. Burrell has retained a new lawyer to look into his case. We have been cooperating with Burrell’s attorneys in their review of the evidence. If Burrell or his lawyers provide new information, we will carefully review it."
"As I’ve said before, this case should be reviewed immediately… as a prosecutor, our job is to convict the guilty and protect the innocent. So if any evidence was not put forward or was not appropriately investigated or if new evidence has emerged that should have been discovered at the time, it must be reviewed,” Klobuchar told ABC News in a statement.
For his part, Burrell cites what he describes as questionable police tactics and a rush to judgement by prosecutors in both of his trials (the then-16-year-old's first conviction was tossed for Miranda violations, including denying him access to speak to his mother, who later died in a car crash soon after his arrest).
Burrell has maintained his innocence and said he hoped alibi witnesses and surveillance video from a convenience store where he says he was at the time of the shooting would have cleared his name, but his defense attorney presented neither at trial, he said.
"All the way until I went to trial -- I believe that they had those tapes. And so then when I went to trial and [my lawyer] never presented them or they never it was just like, you know, I didn't really know how to take it," Burrell said.
Burrell was convicted after the second trial in 2008 -- when Klobuchar was no longer with the office -- despite Tyson and Williams testifying that Burrell was not involved with the shooting of a rival gang member that ultimately took the life of Edwards.
“Even after my conviction was overturned, she recharged me,” Burrell says today of Klobuchar. “She recharged me with first degree murder, never looked into the facts of the case. Never looked into the misconduct that had taken place. Never even addressed the misconduct that had taken place and still put the same detective, the same police on my case to go and get more bogus evidence.”
Asked if he holds Klobuchar responsible for him still being in jail, Burrell responded, “Yes. I feel like she played a big part. Personally, I feel like she is the source of everything that happened with her charging me.”
Burrell was initially arrested on a tip by a jailhouse informant, who was offered "major dollars" by the lead homicide detective to give a name, "even if it was hearsay," according to the AP's year-long investigation. The county prosecutor’s office said in a statement offering cash rewards is “common practice in cases that are not solved with an immediate arrest for a reward to be offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.”
Jailhouse informants were connected to 181 overturned convictions since 1968, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
"I lost my childhood in this place. I've been here since I was a teen. All of my 20s, my 30s," Burrell said.
But he hopes renewed attention on his case will lead to it being re-opened.
“When that AP piece came out. And I was able to see it. I cried. Because all of these years I've been here and I've been screaming, I've been telling people that I'm innocent, I'm not supposed to be here. But my voice was never heard. And they gave me a voice and not just from what I was telling them, but from what they found themselves. And so if you want to, if you want to know the truth and go and find it yourself - it's right there,” Burrell says.
Watch the full interview on ABC News Live at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. (EST)
ABC News' Allie Yang contributed to this report.