“It was a drug deal gone bad, and when it was over, one man was dead and two were in jail facing murder charges.

No one disputes that Brion Overton shot Tyrone Lyles, but Overton claimed he pulled the trigger in self-defense while his cousin, Shyheim Jiles, struggled with the victim in the back seat.

For attorney Brian Karalus, who represented Jiles, it was a pretty straightforward case. After 17 years of defending clients accused of pretty much every imaginable offense, it was Karalus’ first murder case. Because of the unusual way it ended, it’s not one he will forget.

In a rare move for a state court, the Hennepin County attorney’s office prosecuted both men in the same trial, rather than separately. Karalus fought for separate trials, but lost. He represented Jiles while another attorney represented Overton. Because prosecutors believed the shooting happened during an attempted robbery, both men faced first-degree murder charges.

‘If we lose, [Jiles] goes to jail for life,” said Karalus. “He was 20 years old. It weighed on me.’

Before the trial, prosecutors offered Jiles a deal, but only if he would testify that he and Overton intended to rob Lyles. Karalus tried to explain to Jiles that if he testified that Overton intended to rob Lyles, Jiles would get out of jail while he was still young. Jiles had only minor offenses on his record and he had plenty of time to change the direction of his life.”


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