The man whose life sentence in the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards was commuted in 2020 by a panel that included Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison was jailed this week and is facing new gun and drug charges.
Myon Demarlo Burrell, now 38, was arrested on Tuesday by Robbinsdale police following a traffic stop for erratic driving. During a subsequent search of Burrell’s vehicle, a Glock firearm with an extended magazine was located along with various controlled substances, charges say.
Burrell spent 18 years in prison following his conviction on first-degree murder for the benefit of a gang related to a shooting in which Edwards was killed by an errant bullet that entered her south Minneapolis home while she sat at the dining room table doing her homework.
Activists advocated for years to have Burrell’s sentence commuted, citing his young age of 16 at the time of the crime. Claims were also raised that Burrell was wrongly convicted of the crime. That claim served to help tank Amy Klobuchar’s run for president in 2020 as she had served as Hennepin County attorney at the time of Burrell’s prosecution.
Following a review in December 2020 by the Minnesota Board of Pardons’ three-person panel that included Walz, Ellison, and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, the three voted to commute Burrell’s sentence to 20 years and for him to be immediately released from prison. Following his release, Burrell remained under supervision for two years until December of last year.
Among Burrell’s biggest champions was Mary Moriarty who spent decades as a public defender and would later win her election bid for Hennepin County attorney in 2022 — the county where Burrell is now charged in the new case.
Moriarty even 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. Moriarty promoted the fundraising event with Burrell as “a conversation on re-imaging [sic] our criminal legal system and community safety.”
Moriarty has come under intense public scrutiny since taking office for her soft on crime approach as well as dismissing charges in significant cases, including a rape case right after taking office, and more recently dismissing charges against the suspect in the police pursuit that resulted in the death of Leneal Frazier in 2021 and the subsequent conviction of former officer Brian Cummings. Moriarty along with Gov. Walz also took heat for recently meeting with the family of Ricky Cobb following his fatal shooting by a state trooper prior to the investigation by the BCA being completed.
Due to Moriarty’s clear conflict of interest in considering new charges against Burrell, the case was turned over to Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena who on Friday charged Burrell with being a felon in possession of a firearm and fifth-degree possession of controlled substances. The case will proceed in Hennepin County District Court, however, led by Keena.
According to the charges, on Tuesday at about 11 a.m., an officer observed a vehicle drift over the center line of the road toward the other lane of traffic. As the vehicle passed the squad, the officer observed in his mirror that the vehicle was straddling the center line. The officer turned around to catch up to the vehicle and make a traffic stop of the vehicle which was also observed to be speeding faster than the 30-mph limit in the area. When the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, later identified as Burrell, rolled down the window, smoke billowed out and the officer smelled apparent burnt marijuana. The officer observed that Burrell’s eyes were red and glossy with dilated pupils.
Burrell was asked to exit the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test during which the officer observed indications of intoxication. The officer indicated he was going to look in the vehicle for marijuana, and Burrell denied permission for the officer to do so. At that point, the officer tried to place Burrell in the squad car, and Burrell began walking away. The officer took Burrell by the arm and Burrell pulled away and began to actively resist the officer, charges say. Following continued resistance, Burrell was eventually handcuffed and placed in the squad car.
A subsequent search of Burrell’s vehicle turned up a Glock 17 9mm handgun with an extended magazine in the center console. A backpack was also found that contained two bags of marijuana, small plastic baggies, a digital scale, 21 capsules with a crystal-like powder, and another bag containing 16 suspected ecstasy pills. Field testing yielded positive results for methamphetamine in the capsules and MDMA (ecstasy) in the pills, which are Schedule II and Schedule I controlled substances, respectively.
A warrant was obtained for a blood or urine draw on Burrell and those results were still pending at the time of the charges.
Burrell is prohibited from possessing firearms due to his prior murder conviction.
Burrell made his first court appearance in front of Judge Peter Cahill Friday afternoon. His attorney is listed as civil rights and criminal defense lawyer Paul Applebaum. The Associated Press reported that through his attorney, Burrell denied the charges, and Applebaum questioned the circumstances of the traffic stop.
Bail was set at $100,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions. Burrell remained in custody as of late Friday night.
During the push for commutation of Burrell’s murder conviction, nearly $85,000 was raised through a GoFundMe account to benefit and assist Burrell on his reentry into society.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.