Activists want Klobuchar to quit presidential race over 2003 murder case

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) addresses the crowd during the King Day at the Dome rally on January 20, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. The event, first held in 2000 in opposition to the display of the Confederate battl (Sean Rayford / Getty Images)

A Minneapolis father says then-Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar wrongfully prosecuted his son for the 2002 murder of a child, standing with activists who called for Klobuchar to quit the presidential race Wednesday.

Michael Toussaint adamantly told reporters that his son, Myon Burrell, did not shoot 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards in her south Minneapolis home. Burrell, who was 16 at the time of the killing, was later convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Klobuchar has touted the case during the 2020 Democratic primary, saying it was evidence that she sought justice on behalf of families in the black community. But this week, an Associated Press investigation raised issues with the handling of the case.

“Amy is one of the prime people who didn’t do right. She knew it,” Toussaint said. “She brought it up (on the campaign trail). So she basically put herself into play on this.”

The AP’s investigation found a lack of evidence or witnesses to the shooting. The story outlines how police relied on jailhouse informants after the lone witness’s credibility was questioned. The witness later died.

The AP also interviewed one of Burrell’s co-defendants, Ike Tyson, who says he pulled the trigger, not Burrell.

In response, Klobuchar’s campaign noted that Burrell was tried and convicted a second time in 2008 after the Minnesota Supreme Court threw out the first conviction. Klobuchar was no longer the Hennepin County attorney for the second trial.

“If there is new evidence in this case, it should be immediately reviewed by the court,” a Klobuchar campaign spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Burrell is locked up in the state prison in Stillwater. Through a Minnesota Department of Corrections spokeswoman, he declined an interview request from FOX 9.

The 2002 shooting of Edwards, who was doing math homework at her kitchen table, sparked outrage in the community. Klobuchar took a visible role in Burrell’s prosecution, doing interviews and appearing at news conferences with Edwards’ parents.

The issue of racial justice has played a key role in the Democratic primary. Klobuchar, Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg have all faced scrutiny for their support of tough-on-crime stances in the 1990s that landed many black men in prison.

But on the debate stage in September, Klobuchar framed the Burrell case in a different way when asked to defend her record as a prosecutor.

“I am proud of the work that our staff did, 400 people in our office. The cases that came to us, the African-American community that came to us, they said there was no justice for their little kids,” she said.

She then highlighted two cases, including the Edwards case, where she took a lead role in prosecuting people for murder.

“We did the same for the killer of a little girl named Tyesha Edwards, who was doing her homework at her kitchen table and was shot through the window,” Klobuchar said during the debate.

Minneapolis activists, including the local NAACP and Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, said Klobluchar should do more to get Burrell’s conviction reviewed.

“Do not sweep it under the rug,” activist Nekima Levy Armstrong said. “Hold Amy Klobuchar accountable for an actual answer.”