A man convicted in a series of murders of American Indian women in Minneapolis in the 1980s died Tuesday morning, his attorney said.
Billy Glaze, 72, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last week. He died in prison after spending more than 25 years behind bars.
Attorneys for the Minnesota Innocence Project had been arguing in Hennepin County District Court that new DNA testing of evidence from the murder scenes found no link to Glaze, who was serving three life sentences for the crimes, most recently at a prison in Delaware. Tests of 39 items, including bodily fluids, clothing and other items, instead implicated another man — a convicted Minnesota rapist, the attorneys argued.
Hennepin County prosecutors said they were confident they had the right man and a new trial wasn’t needed.
A jury found Glaze guilty of first- and second-degree murder in the bludgeoning deaths of Kathy Bullman, 19, Angeline Whitebird-Sweet, 26, and Angela Green, 21. All three were found nude or mostly nude with their bodies positioned in ways that suggested a serial killer. The cases prompted intense media attention and public outcry, including allegations that police hadn’t been aggressive in investigating crimes against Indians.
Ed Magarian, a partner at the firm of Dorsey & Whitney who was working with the Minnesota Innocence Project on behalf of Glaze, said he was looking into how the case might proceed.
“We are devastated by his loss. We were confident that he would be exonerated in 2016, and he would walk out of prison a free man,” Magarian said.
“His dying wish was that we clear his name,” Magarian said. “If we can go forward we will, whether it’s this forum or another forum.”
Glaze’s nephew, one of a few surviving relatives, said he never met his uncle but corresponded with him after Glaze’s sister died in September, also of lung cancer.
“It’s almost like the state kind of gets off. If he was to win, they would have had to owe him for his life,” said Darrell French, 33, of Augusta, Ga. “What he was looking forward to — getting out — he don’t get to live that.”
French said he was planning to help his uncle transition back to civilian life in Georgia someday.
“I’d teach him how to live … get him acclimated back to life … teach him how to text,” he said.