Prosecutors detail why serial killer should not get new trial

Friday, October 31, 2014

Serial killer Billy Richard Glaze should not receive a new trial because the new evidence is inconclusive and unpersuasive, does not meet the clear and convincing standard required for a new trial and already was heard by the original jury, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a court filing Friday.

In 1989, a jury convicted Glaze of murdering Kathleen Bullman, Angeline Whitebird-Sweet and Angela Green between July 27, 1986 and April 29, 1987. In all three cases, Glaze savagely beat each of the Native American victims to death, sexually mutilated them with large sticks and left their naked bodies on display. Glaze was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Earlier this year, lawyers for Glaze filed a petition for a new trial. In their motion, they said DNA technology that did not exist at the time of trial could now determine that a man, J.A.S., was the source of sperm found in Green’s vagina and on a cigarette found near Whitebird-Sweet’s body. They also said that one of the witnesses who testified has recanted.

“The Innocence Project, and a group of fine lawyers supported by a federal grant, have worked very hard to suggest someone other than Billy Glaze murdered and mutilated three Native American women in 1986 and 1987,” Freeman said. “They have said the new DNA evidence found on one of the women that previously couldn’t be thoroughly tested, as well as partially degraded DNA found at a second crime scene that might actually belong to the brother or father of the man they are trying to blame for the murder, require a retrial. We have reviewed the evidence and find it unpersuasive.

“The common practice in all three murders was not rape, but killing and brutal sexual mutilation. As a result, this isn’t a DNA exoneration case and the DNA found does not require a new trial. Billy Glaze was linked to all three victims and he has confessed to the killings numerous times, both before his conviction and more recently. This office, and I personally, believe in innocent until proven guilty. We also believe that if new evidence is found, it should be pursued and analyzed. This office followed those standards in this case and after reviewing what has been presented, we are absolutely convinced, as was the jury, that Billy Glaze is guilty.”

In the memorandum in opposition to Glaze’s motion for post-conviction relief, filed with Hennepin County District Court Judge Toddrick Barnette, prosecutors said Glaze has not come up with  “clear and convincing proof” of his innocence, which is required for a new trial.

For instance, DNA testing of the sample from Green found DNA from two men, only one of whom was J.A.S. More significantly, it cannot be determined when she had sex with J.A.S. and the evidence at trial established that she was alive for several hours after the sex.

Testing on the degraded cigarette butt found at Whitebird-Sweet’s murder scene near the American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue only obtained a partial profile that cannot exclude  J.A.S.’s father, who worked at the center, or J.A.S’s brother, who attended events at the center. Additionally, the DNA does not tell how long the cigarette was there and if it was even part of the crime, because the murder was committed at a location frequented by transients and it was littered with trash. In fact, the cigarette was under some grass, as though it had been there a long time.

Glaze’s lawyers said Michael Savage has recanted his testimony that he saw Glaze with Bullman before the murder. However, that would not have made any difference in the jury’s deliberations because during his testimony and cross-examination, the jury heard that Savage initially told police he did not see the two together, state’s memorandum says. The jury learned that he changed his story because he believed it was in his “best interest” to help himself with authorities. Further, other witnesses at trial did testify that they saw Glaze and Bullman together, according to prosecutors.

Finally, DNA testing was available by 1994. Under state law, Glaze had until 2007 for this appeal. Instead, Glaze requested DNA testing that year and waited until June 2014 to file this request for a new trial, another reason to deny the motion for a new trial, according to the prosecutor’s motion.

“After much work both by Glaze’s lawyer and this office, there clearly is inadequate evidence for a new trial,” Freeman said.

Memorandum denying trial (PDF)