Review of 14,000 old cases using DNA

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A statewide review of more than 14,000 murder and sexual assault convictions using new DNA technology resulted in none of those convictions being overturned, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced today.

In a news conference with Robert Small, executive director of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, Freeman said that two cases remain open from the review of convictions from 1981 to 1999. One of those cases is the conviction of serial killer Billy Glaze, who died in prison last year.

“This was an extraordinary study and I am proud of the work of the people in my office, and the work of the county attorneys throughout the state,” Freeman said. “I also appreciate the hard work of our partners in this study, the Innocence Project of Minnesota, the Office of Minnesota’s Board of Public Defense and the BCA.”

The four partners obtained a U.S. Department of Justice grant in 2010 to review all the cases from the nearly two decades when DNA technology either did not exist, or was in its infancy and required a larger sample to analyze than is necessary today.

After extensive investigation by the grant partners, it was determined that 33 cases could potentially provide evidence bearing on a defendant’s guilt if new DNA testing was done. Of those, 12 defendants declined testing, 11 tests were inconclusive, eight confirmed the original conviction and two are still outstanding.

“This project has been an incredible learning experience for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and I hope that it can serve as a model for others to follow,” Freeman said. “We prosecutors are human. We make mistakes. When we make mistakes, they can have dramatic impacts on people’s lives, so we know we must constantly review how we do our job.”

Innocence Project Overview (PDF)

Innocence Project Final Report (PDF)

Mike Freeman's Speech for Innocence Project Press Conference (PDF)

Watch press conference