Sunday, May 22, 2005

Knowing, Voluntary, and Intelligent Screw-up?

The Minnesota Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Myon Burrell. Burrell had been convicted in the 2003 murder of Tyesha Edwards, an 11 year-old caught in a gang crossfire while she was doing homework at her kitchen table.

The main issue in the Supreme Court's ruling was a request by the defendant, then 17 years old, to speak to his mother. A suspect in custody must make a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his Miranda right to remain silent. Otherwise, the fruits of the custodial interrogation may not be used against the defendant. Even if a defendant waives his Miranda rights, he can later invoke them by unequivocally requesting a lawyer or asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. In this case, Burrell requested to speak to his mother. The defense argues that this was to receive his mother's counsel. The government argues that Burrell wanted to concoct an alibi with her. That Burrell was not yet an adult factors into the question of whether the Miranda waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.

Although the Court's ruling is vulnerable to criticism in this case, the conduct of the prosecution also raises some eyebrows. County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and the Minneapolis Police stated that they have begun an investigation of the case in preparation for the new trial. Klobuchar later tried to assure us that the case did not hinge on one single piece of evidence. How could the prosecutors have gotten themselves in such a pickle, given that confessions are often subject to challenge, particularly those given my minors?

As I said about the Michael Jackson case, I do not pretend that I could have done a better job. But as a taxpayer and a citizen of Hennepin County, I do deserve some answers.

The initial Star Tribune story on the Court's ruling mentions that fact that there will not be testimony from the intended target, rival gang member Timothy Oliver, who was killed in an unrelated incident in 2004. The story does not mention the plea bargain given to Burrell's co-defendant, Isaiah Tyson. On March 4, 2003, the Star Tribune reported on Tyson's plea deal:

Tyson's account of the incident is helpful because it is consistent with what authorities know about the killing, Klobuchar said. ``He did say it was Burrell who was doing the shooting,'' she said.

However, under the plea agreement, Tyson cannot be called to testify against Burrell and Williams, said Richard Trachy, Tyson's attorney.

On March 3, 2003, our friends at Powerline questioned why Tyson's plea deal did not include an agreement to testify. Why indeed? We deserve some answers.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tysons plea agreement and other piecies of evidence was not used because other pieces of evidence proves Myon was not the trigger man but of course thruought U.S. history isn't the government known for doing big coverups when they are wrong? But the truth that is the real truth and not a truth that the prosicutor(s) made up will come out.....

July 06, 2005 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If things go the way that they should with this new trial,Myon will be set free.The public needs to know who really did this and it was not Myon.there is not one single piece of evidence that myon was anywhere near this crime scene.what was not allowed into evidence were the written statements from Tyson and williams stating that myon was not there.and it was kept secret that both tyson and williams got lighter sentences for saying myon was the shooter. does something seem very wrong with this?there is so much more to prove myon is innocent!!!

September 01, 2005 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Myon is my cousin, he has lost a lot since this trial and is blessed to have a new one! I do believe that the truth will come out. But once it does how does he pick up the pieces?? Thats why things should have been done correctly the first time!

March 20, 2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like there's a hearing tomorrow of some sort. What's happening?

March 28, 2007 3:27 PM  

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