Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday peppered Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) with questions about her role in helping to get a Black teen sentenced to life behind bars in the early 2000s after a recent report raised questions about his conviction.
The Associated Press last week published a yearlong investigation into the 2002 murder of Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old who was killed when a stray bullet struck her while she was doing homework at her dining room table.
Myon Burrell, then 16, was charged with her murder. Klobuchar, a top prosecutor in Minnesota at the time, led the case against Burrell, who was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
But the AP report brought to light a slew of inconsistencies in the police’s investigation of Edwards’ murder, claiming evidence that Burrell says would have cleared him was never seriously pursued by investigators.
Wallace, during an interview with Klobuchar on “Fox News Sunday,” noted that the Democratic presidential candidate has held up Burrell’s conviction as an example of how she’s been “tough on crime.”
“[AP] found police offered cash to potential witnesses and relied on testimony from jailhouse informants who got reduced sentences,” Wallace said. “Senator, did you know when you were the prosecutor about any of that and should this man’s case be reopened?”
Klobuchar appeared to sidestep the question, laying out why Edwards’ death was tragic and noting that “justice must be done.”
“It was a big deal within the African American community,” Klobuchar said of Edwards’ slaying. “Our focus was on bringing the people to justice. ... So what happened was three people were convicted ―”
Wallace interrupted, “But senator, let me just say, we know it was a bad case. The question is whether this young man did it. And this AP investigation indicates that other people that were there said he didn’t do it and that some of the witnesses that were relied on were very questionable. You were the head prosecutor ― did you know? And if you didn’t, shouldn’t you have known?”
Klobuchar noted that there were two trials in Burrell’s case ― one of which took place after she left the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned Burrell’s conviction in 2005, citing “several errors” that occurred during his trial. But he was convicted a second time in 2008 after Klobuchar had left the prosecutor’s office.
“My view, as someone who has worked with the Innocence Project for years, is that if there is new evidence it must come forward,” Klobuchar said Sunday. “It must come forward and it must be considered immediately by the court. The job of a prosecutor is to do justice, and that means to me convict the guilty, protect the innocent.”
But Wallace interrupted her again: “Senator, you’re not answering my question. Did you know about the fact that there was this questionable evidence that the police were coming up with?”
Klobuchar said she “didn’t know about this new evidence” and “couldn’t have” because she hasn’t worked in the state attorney’s office for 12 years.
Wallace continued to press her, asking again whether she knew about the “questionable evidence” while she was the prosecutor and noting that she’s polling at below 1% of support from African American voters.
“Well, I think what you’ve seen all across the country is that when people get to know me, I do well,” Klobuchar said. “And it’s on me. I’ve got to go out there and get to know people.”
The AP’s findings prompted an outcry from civil rights activists, with some Black community members in Minnesota calling on Klobuchar to drop out of the race.
Leslie Redmond, the president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said during a press conference last week that Klobuchar must immediately suspend her campaign.
“Young people, young adults, were given life sentences to rot away in prison,” she said at the press conference. “This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians that have used the criminal justice system to enhance their political careers, and enough is enough.”
“Amy Klobuchar,” she added, “you have questions that need to be answered.”
Watch Wallace’s full interview with Klobuchar below. He asks her about Burrell’s case around the 4:30 mark.