An independent panel of national legal experts has raised serious concerns about both the conviction and prison sentence of Myon Burrell for the 2002 shooting death of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. Mr. Burrell was 16 years old at the time of his arrest, but was tried as an adult. He received a life sentence. (More in Washington Post).
The panel of experts included Innocence Project of Texas Executive Director and co-founder Mike Ware, who was the chief of the country’s first Conviction Integrity Unit, in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.
In a 56-page report issued on December 8, 2020, the panel found, among other things, that its review of the original investigation identified several troubling examples of “tunnel vision”, (when authorities establish a narrative early in an investigation and zero in on evidence that appears to support that narrative while ignoring or discounting evidence inconsistent with that narrative). The report also seriously questions the extensive use by authorities of “jailhouse informants” in Mr. Burrell’s case, who were incentivized to testify for the prosecution with favorable treatment in their own criminal cases.
The panel further found that no purpose is served by Mr. Burrell’s continued incarceration and recommended that his case be re-investigated by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office’s newly established Conviction Review Unit. Mr. Burrell has served 18 years.
Mr. Burrell is scheduled for a clemency hearing with the Governor and Attorney General of Minnesota on Tuesday December 15, 2020. It is expected that a decision as to whether Mr. Burrell will be released may be made at the time of the hearing. The entire proceedings can be watched HERE.
The independent panel was formed in July 2020 and was convened by Laura Nirider, co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project and professor of law at Cardozo School of Law in New York.