Why is Klobuchar still involved in the Myon Burrell case?

For reasons that remain unclear, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is still wrapped up in the case of Myon Burrell. He’s the man who was convicted in the 2002 slaying of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards when Klobuchar was serving as the Hennepin County Attorney in Minnesota. Burrell was 16 at the time of the killing, but developments in the case well after his two trials have called his guilt into question. Yesterday, Klobuchar sent a letter to the current County Attorney asking for a full, independent investigation of the situation. (Associated Press)

US Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked a top Minnesota prosecutor Thursday to initiate an independent investigation into the case of Myon Burrell, a black teen sentenced to life after an 11-year-old black girl was killed by a stray bullet.

“As you are aware, significant concerns about the evidence and police investigation have been raised by a press investigation, by members of the Hennepin County community, and by Myon’s family,” she wrote in a letter to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

In calling for an “independent investigation and an independent review,” Klobuchar yielded to increasing community pressure to reopen a case that dogged her Democratic presidential primary run. A yearlong Associated Press investigation published last month uncovered major flaws in the 2002 case, raising questions as to whether the 16-year-old blamed in the little girl’s death may have been wrongfully convicted.

Back when I first heard about (and wrote about) this case, I noted that the timing of the protests attacking Klobuchar’s campaign over the handling of the Burrell conviction seemed suspicious, to say the least. The questions raised about the conviction have been out there in the local press for more than a decade, but it was only when Klobuchar started showing some momentum in the primary that Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and other groups showed up to call for her to quit the campaign and deal with Burrell’s situation.

Further, the groups in question were obviously going after the wrong person and that’s still the case today. It’s true that Klobuchar was in charge of the original trial, but that conviction was thrown out. It wasn’t until 2008 when Burrell was finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison. That was long after Klobuchar had moved on and taken a seat in the Senate. Her replacement in the County Attorney’s office was the one who handled that.

Further, at the time of the original trial, none of the witness recantations nor the admission of guilt by a different prisoner had taken place. She was working with the information available at the time and a jury found the case persuasive enough to deliver a guilty verdict.

None of this is to say that the case doesn’t deserve a fresh look. Most people in prison claim that they didn’t do whatever they were accused of and jailhouse confessions aren’t always valid. But it’s also true that innocent people are sometimes convicted and imprisoned. The point here is that the current County Attorney, Mike Freeman, is the one who needs to be examining the case as Klobuchar has requested. That really should be the end of her involvement.

For his part, Freeman is claiming that an internal investigation is underway and that should be sufficient. I somehow doubt that will quell the protests surrounding this case. If Myon Burrell is truly innocent and this national exposure leads to his name being cleared and his release from prison, some good will have come from all of this. But no matter how it plays out, this really isn’t Klobuchar’s problem, and continuing to drag her name into it is neither fair nor productive.