Attorney who prosecuted Myon Burrell says ‘wealth of information’ supports his guilt 

Myon Burrell was convicted twice of murdering a girl in Minneapolis, but his sentence was commuted in 2020. One of the attorneys who prosecuted him thinks that's "just outrageous."

Myon Burrell
A former Hennepin County prosecutor who worked to keep Myon Burrell behind bars joined Liz Collin Reports this week to discuss the case. (Minnesota Department of Corrections/Alpha News)

He was convicted twice of killing an 11-year-old girl, only to have his life sentence commuted by a panel that included Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Myon Burrell was set free after 18 years in prison, but now he is facing new felony charges.

A former Hennepin County prosecutor who worked to keep Burrell behind bars joined Liz Collin Reports this week where he said public officials and the local press are to blame for creating a false narrative of innocence around Burrell’s case.

In 2002, a stray bullet entered a south Minneapolis home and killed Tyesha Edwards. The 11-year-old was doing her homework at the dining room table with her sister when it happened. Burrell was 16 years old at the time. He was first convicted by a jury, then again by a judge. Still, his sentence was commuted in 2020 and he was set free. His request for a pardon was denied, but his case is now being investigated by a conviction review unit in Ellison’s office.

Mike Furnstahl successfully prosecuted Burrell on retrial in 2008 while Burrell has maintained his innocence.

“That’s just a joke. No innocent person has five different alibis. He could only have been in one place at the time. He said he was in five different places. That’s not the words of an innocent person,” Furnstahl said.

Furnstahl said the “false narrative” surrounding Burrell’s case was solidified in a 2020 report that was released by University of Saint Thomas professor Mark Osler and an “independent panel of national legal experts.” The report stated Burrell’s continued incarceration served no purpose but did not make a conclusion on his guilt or innocence.

“It was very frustrating for me because there was nothing I could do at the time. I was a family court referee and therefore subject to the rules of judicial professional responsibility and I was prohibited from speaking out on a pending case. So, I couldn’t say anything,” Furnstahl said.

However, he had a lot to say in a 152-page report released in 2021.

“Anybody who compares the Osler report to the facts of the case I think would be appalled by some of the comments they make and some of the allegations that they raise. It stretches the imagination to say that this was penned by a group of neutral experts. It’s just mind-boggling to me,” Furnstahl said.

Myon Burrell was 16 years old at the time of Tyesha Edwards’ 2002 murder.

Furnstahl spoke about Burrell’s motive and explained how he was supposed to shoot an opposing gang member when the bullet instead struck Edwards inside her house.

“At the time, the Rolling 30s Bloods, which Burrell was a member of, was at war with the Family Mob. There were between 30 to 40 shootings that took place and three to four murders, so it was a very bloody thing. Burrell had switched allegiances. He was originally a member of the Vice Lords and was initiated into the Bloods. So, they didn’t trust him at first. He had to prove his worth,” Furnstahl explained.

Furnstahl discussed in great detail a confession that he says was largely left out of discussions of Burrell’s case.

“Another thing the Osler report failed to mention was the testimony of a man who was in the same area in the Hennepin County jail as Myon Burrell … he gave incredible details that only Burrell would have known about,” he said.

Furnstahl said Burrell was befriended by a man in jail and “the conversations that they had were overheard by another inmate in that quad.”

“We had a recorded statement from him that confirmed that he overheard Burrell confessing to this man in the quad … we had a lot of evidence corroborating the statement, and the statement was incredibly powerful. It was probably the most striking piece of evidence that we had, but it went totally unmentioned in the report by this group of neutral experts. So, you have to wonder, anybody who’s reading that report and relying on that report for the facts of the Burrell case, such as presumably the governor and attorney general during the pardon hearing, you have to wonder why that wasn’t put in there,” Furnstahl said.

In his report, Furnstahl also goes into detail about the five alibis Burrell provided throughout his time behind bars.

Osler, one of the authors of the 2020 report, is now the head of the criminal division in Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s office. Moriarty paid Burrell for “consulting” during her election campaign and touted him as a special guest at a campaign fundraiser a year after his release from prison.

“It’s very incestuous, this relationship between Mary Moriarty, Mark Osler, and Keith Ellison. Moriarty and Ellison are cut from the same cloth. When she was being fired from her dream job as the chief Hennepin County public defender, Ellison defended her and she supports Burrell’s request to vacate his conviction and she doesn’t know anything about the case. She had no access to the transcripts, no access to the police reports, so she had no information to base this conclusion on other than the word of Myon Burrell. Now this is the chief prosecutor in Hennepin County, the chief law enforcement officer in Hennepin County, that sides with a twice-convicted child murderer based upon his word alone without checking the facts on it,” Furnstahl said.

Mike Furnstahl successfully prosecuted Burrell on retrial in 2008. (Alpha News)

Alpha News reached out to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Attorney General Ellison’s office for comment but did not receive a response.

Burrell is facing new felony charges after he was pulled over by Robbinsdale police for erratic driving. He’s charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. The Minnesota Freedom Fund paid $100,000 for Burrell’s bail.

“It’s not surprising,” Furnstahl commented. “Tyesha’s father described Burrell, I think, perfectly when he called him just a young thug. So, it’s not surprising to me that he was caught. I mean, he’s a criminal.”

“I think it speaks volumes about the judgment of these people that commuted a sentence and contributed to doing that and supported that. They all said that he has rehabilitated himself and I don’t know how you can rehabilitate yourself when you don’t take responsibility for your actions,” Furnstahl added.

He believes Burrell’s case “dealt a blow to the justice system” because there “is a wealth of information” to support his guilt.

“This was a young lady, an 11-year-old child, that was murdered in front of her 8-year-old sister. Imagine how that affects a person for the rest of their lives? Then, when you hear that people are saying that Myon Burrell is innocent and you have to face the possibility that you might run into him someplace on the street? For her family to have suffered what they did and then all this other stuff coming afterwards, I think it’s just outrageous,” Furnstahl observed. “We have to be able to protect our children, for crying out loud if we can’t do that, what kind of society are we? We have to expect the media, if they are reporting on these issues, they’re going to do it fairly and accurately without bias. That really hasn’t happened in this case.”


Liz Collin

Liz Collin has been a truth-teller for 20 years as a multi-Emmy-Award-winning reporter and anchor. Liz is a Worthington, Minnesota native who lives in the suburbs with her husband, son and loyal lab.