Judge rules that dead serial killer Billy Glaze will not get a new trial

Thursday, November 03, 2016

A Hennepin County District Court Judge ended efforts to overturn the conviction of serial killer Billy Glaze in an order filed Wednesday.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Toddrick Barnette ruled that when Glaze died in prison Dec. 22, his appeal died with him. Further, Judge Barnette wrote that “nothing in the record supports a finding that Petitioner (Glaze) was actually innocent or that his conviction was wrongful.”

“We are satisfied with Judge Barnette’s decision,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Justice was done in the murders of Kathleen Bullman, Angeline Whitebird-Sweet and Angela Green. We cooperated with the Minnesota Innocence Project to review the case, but in the end, the evidence was overwhelming that Glaze was the killer and he rightfully spent the rest of his life in prison.”

On Feb. 10, 1989, a jury found Glaze guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of the three American Indian women, carried out between July 1986 and late April 1987, and he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. A year later, the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed his conviction noting the overwhelming evidence to support the conviction.

However, in the mid-2000s, the Minnesota Innocence Project took on the case and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office worked with them in reviewing evidence and allowing DNA testing on some of the evidence. On June 4, 2014, Glaze’s lawyers filed a post-conviction petition with Hennepin County District Court. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office opposed the petition.

That petition was still open, with both sides filing additional briefs, when Glaze died in prison. On Jan. 4, the county attorney’s office filed a motion to dismiss the appeal because Glaze was dead and therefore the issue was moot. His lawyers opposed that motion.

Glaze’s lawyers argued there still was a controversy for the judge to decide and the action he could take would be to clear Glaze’s name. They also argued the case had statewide public significance. In his ruling, Judge Barnette stated he was not persuaded by their arguments.

The Glaze case was one of only two cases that were undetermined after a review of 14,000 murder and sexual assault cases throughout Minnesota undertaken by county attorneys and the Minnesota Innocence Project going back to 1981. The review used new DNA technology, not available when the crimes were committed, to determine if any wrongful convictions might have occurred. None were found and the other undetermined case is expected to be resolved soon.