Two men convicted in the death of a south Minneapolis schoolgirl testified Tuesday that Myon Burrell, accused of shooting her, wasn't with them when a stray bullet pierced Tyesha Edwards' heart.
Isaiah (Ike) Tyson and Hans Williams said an unidentified third man joined them as they tracked down and shot at Timothy Oliver, a Gangster Disciple. The bullets missed Oliver that day, but one went through the wall of Edwards' home, killing the 11-year-old as she did her homework at the dining room table.
Tyson, who claims to be a former member of the Tyson Mob, said a friend of Williams' rode with them to the shooting. But Williams testified they picked up a third man en route and he didn't know him.
The two testified in defense of Myon Burrell, who is being tried a second time for the 2002 shooting. Burrell was convicted of Edwards' murder in 2003, but the state Supreme Court set aside that verdict and ordered a new trial.
Defense attorney Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks asked both men whether they were certain Burrell wasn't with them that day. Both said he was not there.
The defense lawyer questioned Tyson for about 30 minutes. Then Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Mike Furnstahl spent the next several hours in an indefatigable cross-examination. He got no help from Tyson, who declined several times to "recognize" his own voice on a phone call from jail.
At one point, Tyson said to Furnstahl, "What the [expletive] you trying to get at?"
Furnstahl was attempting to show, through a letter Tyson wrote while in prison, that he remains a Tyson Mob gang member hostile to the Crips. In the letter, Tyson had put a slash through every letter "c."
Tyson pleaded guilty in 2003 to second-degree intentional murder and attempted first-degree murder for the benefit of a gang. But under Furnstahl's questioning, he denied he was attempting to kill or shoot Oliver, saying he wanted only to scare him. Oliver has since died.
Under questioning from Eichhorn-Hicks, Tyson admitted to initially telling police that Burrell was with him. Hours later, he said to Furnstahl, "I figured if I said I was with him, they couldn't put me there ... I was trying to do anything I thought would help me get out of the situation."
Furnstahl asked Tyson whether there were consequences for snitching on a fellow gang member. Tyson said, "People wouldn't want to talk to you anymore."
Furnstahl said, "That's it? Couldn't you lose your life?"
Tyson responded, "No. This ain't like a mafia movie."
Furnstahl continued, asking whether someone could get killed for fingering a gang member.
"They can, but it rarely happens," Tyson said.
Williams continues on the stand today beginning at 8:30. The case is before Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter, who will decide Burrell's innocence or guilt. Williams pleaded guilty in 2003 to second-degree murder for the benefit of a gang.
Every day since Burrell's retrial began March 10, Tyesha's father, Jimmie Edwards, her mother, Linda Longino, and stepfather, Leonard Winborn, sit in the front row quietly watching the trial unfold again.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747