The lonesome death of Tyesha Edwards

In a nearby post John writes about the case of Myon Burrell. In the early days of Power Line John and I wrote several columns for the local newspapers decrying the murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. Tyesha was doing her homework at the dining room table in November 2002 when she was caught in the crossfire of Minneapolis gangbangers. Myon Burrell was convicted twice of Tyesha’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In our columns we made three basic points: 1) Minneapolis has a serious gang problem; 2) it was not talked about publicly by Minneapolis municipal leaders because Minneapolis’s gangs are largely black, even though the primary victims of Minneapolis’s gang crime are black as well; 3) appropriate municipal leadership and law enforcement could take back the streets from the gangs, but the mayor (then Mayor R.T. Rybak) and the Minneapolis Chief of Police (then chief Robert Olson) had failed to provide such leadership.

Our 2002 columns on Tyesha’s murder elicited an incredibly stupid response from Rybak and Olson, versions of which were published in both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. I noted their column here in a 2002 post that responded to it. Unfortunately, links to all the published columns — our own and Rybak/Olson’s — are dead.

Burrell’s sentence was commuted in 2020 by a pardon board including Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Out on the streets, Burrell was free to offend again and subsequent charges suggest that he has done so. John’s nearby post updates that aspect of the Burrell story.

Why did Walz vote to release him? It was all about the “science” — the “science” of teenage killers. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the developments in science and law as we look at this case,” said Walz. “We can’t shackle our children in 2020,” added Walz. “We need to grow as our science grows.”

John found this rationale somewhat less than persuasive. He criticized the commutation of Burrell’s sentence in 2020 here.

Last year Alpha News reporter Liz Collin tracked down former Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Mike Furnstahl. Furnstahl is one of the prosecutors who put Burrell away in the 2008 retrial. Liz revisited the Burrell case with Furnstahl in the video below. Liz’s companion Alpha News story is posted here. Furnstahl’s report, referred to in the interview, has been posted online by KARE 11. Furnstahl gave his report the apt title Assessing the Guilt of Myon Burrell For the Murder of Tyesha Edwards And the Selfish and Immoral Actions
Of the Public Figures involved
. It runs to 152 pages with exhibits.

Among other things, Liz’s interview indicts and convicts the Minnesota media of criminal negligence in this matter. The video seethes with Furnstahl’s indignation and performs a badly needed public service. Referring to Burrell’s alleged innocence, Furnstahl comments: “That’s just a joke. No innocent person has five different alibis. He could only have been in one place at the time. He said he was in five different places. That’s not the words of an innocent person.”

In the second paragraph of his nearby post, John alludes to a book by someone “who wrote years ago about the mismatch between the dead victim and the living murderer. The murderer can be understood; can reform; can be sympathized with; can be, in some quarters, admired. Whereas his victim is just gone. And in most cases, no one speaks for her or for him.” The book to which John alluded is Dr. Willard Gaylin’s (in my opinion, classic) The Killing of Bonnie Garland: A Question of Justice (originally published in 1982 and still in print after all these years). In the murder of Tyesha Edwards, Mike Furnstahl speaks for the victim.

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