Myon Burrell had been prepared to spend the rest of his life in prison for the death of an 11-year-old girl fatally shot with a stray bullet in 2002, until he was released Tuesday shortly after the Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted his sentence. His sentence has been reduced to 20 years, and Burrell, who was just 16 years old at the time of the shooting, will serve the remainder of it on supervised release.
“Mr. Burrell has shown tremendous rehabilitation, positive programming, and leadership during his incarceration,” Attorney General Keith Ellison wrote on Twitter. "For those reasons, I voted for his commutation. He just walked out of Stillwater Prison today, under supervised release. I wish him and his family the best.”
The 11-year-old victim, Tyesha Edwards, was fatally shot while she was in her house in Minneapolis. A stray bullet had torn through the wall, striking and killing her. The shooting that killed her had been a part of a gang war, authorities said.
“There is nothing I can do to ease your pain, and it will not be made better," Governor Tim Walz, who was behind the decision, told the victim’s family, according to the Associated Press. "But we must act today to recognize the law in this area has changed. Justice is not served by incarcerating a child for his entire lifetime for a horrible mistake committed many years ago."
Burrell has always maintained his innocence, and new evidence was released earlier this year backing that claim and raising questions about the police investigation.
"All of these years I've been in here and I've been screaming and I've been telling people that I'm innocent and I'm not supposed to be here," he told ABC News in February. "But my voice was never heard."