Attorneys for Billy Glaze, 70, have filed an appeal asking for his conviction to be vacated and for him to receive a new trial in light of new DNA evidence.  Glaze is serving 3 life sentences for the murders of three American Indian women in 1986 and 1987.  Kathleen Bullman, Angeline Whitebird Sweet, and Angela Green were raped, murdered, and mutilated.

Bullman’s body was found in the summer of 1986 in the brush under a tree near a railroad warehouse in Minneapolis.  Sweet’s body was found in the back of an American Indian Center in April of 1987.  Green was discovered under the Park Avenue Railroad Bridge that same month.

Glaze, a drifter with a long criminal history, emerged as an early suspect.  Authorities knew that several people alleged that he had made derogatory comments about American Indians previously.  At his 1989 trial, jailhouse informants testified that Glaze confessed to them.  Glaze has always maintained his innocence.  Prosecutors have always acknowledged that there was little physical evidence against Glaze.  His history included rape, drunk driving, fraud, and counterfeiting.  His serial killer murder trial was high-profile and heavily covered at the time.  The case was called the most extensive investigation in Minneapolis ever.  So, did they get it wrong?

Glaze wrote the Innocence Project ten years ago.  It took the group more than 3 years to find the evidence.  The Minnesota chapter recently worked on several high-profile cases including the clearing of Michael Hansen, who served 6 years for the murder of his 4-month-old daughter.  The state dropped all charges after his conviction was overturned.

Three independent labs ran DNA tests on dozens of pieces of evidence from the three murders Glaze was convicted of.  It took several years to get the results.  Those results show no trace of Glaze at any of the crime scenes.

Innocence Project lawyer Olga Akselrod said, “In a case like this where not only is it a violent homicide but…also a sexual assault…you would certainly expect to see some DNA…we didn’t find any…from Billy Glaze.”

Instead, the tests showed DNA matching another man, a convicted rapist, at two of three scenes.  A full DNA profile matching the man was found in a swab taken from Green.  A second partial profile was found on a cigarette collected from Sweet’s murder scene.

“You look at the evidence that they were able to present…at the time…It was the best they could come up with…” said Julie Jonas, an attorney with Minnesota’s Innocence Project, “If they would have had what they have now against this person who really did the crimes, he would have been the one…arrested…Billy Glaze would never have gone to prison for all those 27 years.”

According to the Innocence Project, the DNA profile at 2 of the 3 scenes matches a man who kidnapped and raped several American Indian women in 1989, 2 – 3 years after the murders.  The man is not being named publicly, but currently lives in Minneapolis and denies knowing any of the victims.  In addition to the DNA, a key prosecution witness who testified that he saw Glaze with one of the victims has recanted his testimony and at the time, Glaze’s defense attorneys were not told important information about the credibility of the state’s witnesses.  One of the state’s witnesses claimed to witness Bullman’s murder, but also claimed to have witnessed 60 other murders over several years.

“This case is about a man who has been in prison for 27 years for a horrible crime he did not commit,” said Ed Magarian of Dorsey & Whitney, a Minneapolis law firm that partners with the Innocence Project.

Deputy Hennepin County Attorney Dave Brown said authorities were still reviewing the voluminous filing from the Innocence Project attorneys, but his office has been communicating with the group, “There’s nothing that we’ve seen through the years, as we’ve reviewed these claims, that suggests to us that anyone other than Billy Glaze is the one that did these brutal sexual mutilations and murders.”  He went on to say that “the difficulty in analyzing the DNA evidence…is that these scenes were chaotic.”

Gladys Genschow, Sweet’s older sister, said she was shocked to learn that the conviction is being questioned, “I thought they had him.”  But, if the evidence shows he didn’t commit the murders then she said she was glad they are looking at the case again, “They need to find the right person.”

Mavis Kingbird, Sweet’s younger sister, recalls not being able to look at Glaze during the trial, but “If they have the wrong person…that’s not right…It’s kind of scary…”

It took the jury 35 1/2 hours over 4 days to convict Glaze.  Glaze told the judge before sentencing, “I’m not the serial killer…do what you have to do.”

The project learned that in 2003, the state had the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conduct DNA testing on a jacket found half-a-mile from Sweet’s body.

“There was no reason to conduct that testing (especially at taxpayer’s expense) unless the State had doubts about whether the State had actually convicted the right man,” the new trial motion states.

After the 2009 DNA testing in Green’s case came back excluding Glaze, it took the Innocence Project 3 years to convince the FBI to run the profile through their databases.  It came back matching a different sex offender.  Then, in 2013, DNA testing in Sweet’s case excluded Glaze and matched the same man.

Glaze was “branded a serial murderer 27 years ago in the press…Justice can only be served by correcting this injustice as quickly as possible,” the filing states.

  1. tammela whitebird says:

    If he isn’t the man who did it….I feel bad for him. They should find the one who did…


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