Myon Burrell, 34, was released from a state prison on Tuesday after the Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted his life sentence in a murder case that angered advocates of criminal justice reform and hampered Senator Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign.
An investigation by The Associated Press and American Public Media in February revealed glaring flaws in the prosecution by an office led by Ms. Klobuchar, then the Hennepin County attorney. Mr. Burrell was 16 when he was arrested in 2002, after an 11-year-old girl was struck in the heart by a stray bullet while doing homework.
The board reduced Mr. Burrell’s sentence to 20 years with the remaining two years to be served on supervised release, according to The Associated Press. He has always maintained his innocence.
“This was the right and just decision, and I thank the Pardon Board for their work,” Ms. Klobuchar said in a statement. “Along with others, I had asked for the independent investigation of this case, and as I said when the report was first released, the sentence deserved immediate review. That happened today.”
Ms. Klobuchar added that she has also urged the Minnesota Conviction Review Unit to continue to re-investigate the facts of the case.
One of Mr. Burrell’s lawyers, Daniel Guerrero, said on Tuesday that he planned to pursue avenues toward complete exoneration. He praised Mr. Burrell’s release but said his case pointed to larger flaws in the criminal justice system.
“Myon is certainly not the only innocent person that we have in our prison system here in this country,” Mr. Guerrero said. “Our jury system is good, but it’s certainly not infallible.”
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Will Wright