Amy Klobuchar touts toughness, accused of helping jail ‘innocent’ black teen for life

(Video screenshots from MSNBC/AP)

The findings of a bombshell new Associated Press investigation strongly suggest that Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar once helped send an innocent black teen to prison for life.

Serving at the time as the prosecuting attorney for Minnesota’s Hennepin County, in 2002 Klobuchar pledged to deliver justice for Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old black girl who was killed by a stray bullet during a drive-by shooting gone wrong.

Within a week of the shooting, three suspects — Hans Williams, 25; Isaiah Tyson, 23, and Myon Burrell, 17 — were arrested on charges of first-degree murder.

“Burrel, Tyson and Williams are believed to be gang members. Last Friday they drove by a person they thought was a member of a rival gang just north of Tyesha Edwards home. They went and got a gun and came back,” Klobuchar said at the time.

“Tyson and Burrell jumped out of the car and ran between the houses through the yards of the neighborhood. Then Burrell began firing his gun at the intended target.”

Stinging sentences soon followed,  including a life sentence for Burrell, who was dubbed the triggerman by the authorities.

A couple of years later in 2006, when Klobuchar made her successful bid for a seat on the U.S. Senate, the then-prosecutor invited Edwards’ mother to appear in one of her campaign ads to push back on claims by her challenger, then-Rep. Mark Kennedy, that she’d been weak on crime:

“When our little girl, Tyesha, was murdered, Amy saw to it that those gang members were put away,” the mother says in the video above.

There’s a problem, though. A slew of them, in fact.

Whereas several people saw Tyson and Williams “roll by in their car minutes before the attack, and a 911 tip from one of their girlfriends helped seal the deal” against them, no definitive evidence of Burrell’s involvement was ever uncovered, according to the Associated Press.

“Burrell, then 16, was arrested only after a tip from an often-used jailhouse informant. During his lengthy legal process, Burrell hired and fired six attorneys as they failed to cross-examine witnesses, pursue alibis or challenge glaring irregularities in the investigation,” the outlet reported last Tuesday.

But it gets worse. After reviewing “a thousand pages of police records, court transcripts and interrogation tapes,” as well as interviewing “dozens of inmates, witnesses, family members, former gang leaders, lawyers and criminal justice experts,” the AP found that it’s likely Burrell is 100 percent innocent.

“The case relied heavily on a teen rival of Burrell’s who gave conflicting accounts when identifying the shooter, who was largely obscured behind a wall 120 feet away,” the outlet noted.

“With no other eyewitnesses, police turned to multiple jailhouse snitches. Some have since recanted, saying they were coached or coerced. Others were given reduced time, raising questions about their credibility. And the lead homicide detective offered ‘major dollars’ for names, even if it was hearsay.”

“There was no gun, fingerprints, or DNA. Alibis were never seriously pursued. Key evidence has gone missing or was never obtained, including a convenience store surveillance tape that Burrell and others say would have cleared him.”

And then there’s this: Tyson, who’s serving a 45-year sentence for his roll in the drive-by, has repeatedly insisted that not only was he the gunman, but that Burrell wasn’t even with him and Williams when the shooting occurred.

“I already shot an innocent girl,” he said to the AP. “Now an innocent guy — at the time he was a kid — is locked up for something he didn’t do. So, it’s like I’m carrying two burdens.”

To this day, Burrell maintains his innocence

Learn more below:

Mary Moriarty, a veteran public defender in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, believes corners were likely cut.

“In the case of Myon Burrell — where you had a really high-profile shooting of an innocent girl and you put a lot of pressure on the system to get someone to be responsible for that — I think a lot of corners were probably cut,” she said.

But when asked about the AP’s investigation, a Klobuchar campaign spokesperson suggested the only truly innocent party is the congresswoman herself.

“Asked for comment on the case, a Klobuchar campaign spokesperson said Burrell was tried and convicted of Tyesha’s murder twice, and the second trial occurred when Klobuchar was no longer the Hennepin County Attorney. If there was new evidence, she said, it should be immediately reviewed by the court,” the AP reported.

She does reportedly have one notable defender — Burrell’s attorney, Daniel Guerrero.

“I don’t think she had much to do with the case,” he told The New York Times, claiming others on her team handled the case. “She stepped back and let them do what they were doing.”

But then why has she repeatedly cited the case as an example of her being tough on crime? Guerrero addressed this as well, though not in a way that’s apt to help Klobuchar.

“The one thing I would say about Senator Klobuchar is that I wish she would stop citing the Edwards case as an example of her being aggressive prosecutor,” he said.

Though certainly tragic that an 11-year-old girl died, it’s equally as bad that a 16-year-old boy was likely wrongfully convicted and sentenced to a life term in the face of an aggressive and often short sighted prosecution.”

A black teen who was possibly innocent was sentenced to life in prison because of a “short-sighted prosecution” that Klobuchar played at least some role in — enough for her to boast about the case over and over again — and that she’s repeatedly used to boost her own political ambitions.

In response to these findings, the Minneapolis NAACP and other local civil rights organizations have begun calling for the congresswoman to suspend her campaign immediately.

“Young people, young adults, were given life sentences to rot away in prison,” Leslie Redmond, the president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said during a press conference last Wednesday.

“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. Amy Klobuchar, you have questions that need to be answered.”



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