Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who once served as Hennepin County’s district attorney, has received support from the current county attorney after it was reported earlier this year that she worked to put a teenager behind bars for life with little to no concrete evidence.
In a statement shared on Monday to the Hennepin County Attorney website, Mike Freeman called for an end to the “politicization” of the case involving Myon Burrell, adding that it should not be treated “like a political football.”
As district attorney for the county, Klobuchar led the case against Burrell, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. At the time of his sentencing, Burrell was a teenager. He is now 33-years-old. An AP investigation into the matter revealed that Klobuchar prosecuted Burrell without substantial evidence and dismissed a confession from the co-defendant who claimed Burrell was not at the scene.
This case is being politicized because it first arose when Amy Klobuchar was the Hennepin County Attorney. The case, however, involves the murder of an 11-year old girl, and the person who has been convicted twice of committing that murder.
Amy Klobuchar was not the trial attorney on the case. It should not be treated like a political football. This office will continue to focus on the facts and will not let the politics of the moment influence that review of the facts.
Freeman also noted that he is working with Burrell’s current legal team.
“Burrell is represented by legal counsel and the Innocence Project is actively working on his case,” Freeman said. “Last Friday they called, and we will be meeting with them soon. We will promptly review any new issues.”
In a recent interview with ABC News, Burrell discussed his life in prison and how he lost his “childhood in this place.”
“I lost my childhood in this place,” Burrell said. “I’ve been here since I was a teen. All of my 20s, my 30s.” He went on:
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.
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.
Since the release of the AP’s investigation into the case, several racial justice groups have called on Klobuchar to suspend her campaign.
Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP said:
What I need people to understand is this isn’t about partisanship and this isn’t about politics. This is about justice. … This isn’t just a situation that happened to the Central Park Five alone. This is a situation that happens all around America. This is a situation that happens right here in Minnesota.
Young people. young adults were given life sentences to rot away in prison. This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians that have used the criminal justice system to enhance their political careers and enough is enough.
Recent statements from the foreman of the jury that sent Burrell to prison revealed regret for the decision in the case.
“I do feel badly,” jury foreman Joe McLean told the AP. “I feel, for lack of a better word, that we were misled.”
“Maybe we should have taken more time,” he added. “Maybe we should have said we couldn’t decide.”