Updated: 3:37 p.m
The Dakota County District Attorney’s office charged Meon Burrell, 37, with illegal gun and drug possession after a recent traffic stop in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Burrell is banned from possession of firearms after his 2008 conviction in the murder of Tisha Edwards. An 11-year-old girl who was shot while sitting in her Minneapolis home in 2002.
Burrell was a teenager when he was arrested and convicted of first degree murder.
His sentence was subsequently commuted in 2020 Investigative journalists It revealed flaws in police investigations that led to Burrell’s imprisonment.
Burrell has maintained his innocence, and during an appearance before the state pardon board in 2020, he said his request for pardon and commutation was “in no way an attempt to lessen the tragedy of the loss” of Tisha Edwards.
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According to the charges, Burrell was pulled over around 11 a.m. on Aug. 29 after an officer noticed his car crossing the center line and exceeding the speed limit. Prosecutors say police detected what they thought was marijuana smoke coming from the car and suspected Burrell was weak. Police say they found a gun and illegal drugs in the SUV and say there was no one else in Burrell’s car.
The Dakota County Attorney’s Office made the indictment to avoid a potential conflict of interest with the Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office. Burrell made his first appearance this afternoon.
Burrell’s attorney, Paul Applebaum, says he has questions about the legality of the police stops, searches and seizures. He said Burrell did not give the officer consent to search the SUV.
“Since the new state laws (related to marijuana) were passed about a month ago, I’m sure there aren’t a lot of laws about whether smell alone will give you permission to search a vehicle without consent,” he said. Applebaum.
Applebaum says Burrell was “out of paper” meaning he was not subject to any post-release restrictions after his sentence was commuted in 2020. However, he says a previous murder conviction makes gun possession a felony for Burrell.
“What if this conviction is overturned?” asked Applebaum. “There is a Conviction Review Board set up to review convictions for fairness. What if, in the near future, the Review Board annuls his conviction – and that removes the bond on him as a criminal?
That would make the possession charge a misdemeanor, Applebaum said, instead of the mandatory five-year sentence for a felon for illegally carrying a gun.
When asked about the drug charges, Applebaum said it was still too early to know how he would handle that defense. Applebaum said his first order of business would be to get Borrell out of prison, where he has been held since his arrest last week.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.