Billy Glaze, who a prosecutor said had a "fury in his gut" against American Indian women, was found guilty Friday of killing three Indian women while sexually assaulting them in Minneapolis in 1986 and 1987.
The Hennepin County District Court jury also found Glaze guilty of three counts of second-degree murder for intentionally killing the women without premeditation.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for 35 1/2 hours over four days.
After the verdict was read, Judge Jonathan Lebedoff asked Glaze if he had anything to say before he was sentenced.
Glaze replied, "I'm not the serial killer." He said the witnesses were liars. "I ain't never worn no bandana or went in bars and said that about Indian women," Glaze said. "But do what you have to do."
Lebedoff then sentenced the 45-year-old drifter to three consecutive life sentences. Glaze will have to serve at least 50 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
"Nothing can be gained by dwelling upon the horrors we've been privy to in the last week, and they can't be undone," Lebedoff said. "The families of the deceased will have to deal with their private
pain. There is nothing I can do about that, but I can recommend you be sent to an institution for the rest of your natural life."
Following the verdict, Hazel Whitebird, mother of Angeline Whitebird-Sweet, Glaze's second victim, said to reporters, "I think this time has been real hard. It'll be two years April (since her daughter was killed), and I think the last two weeks was like two years." She testified and was in court throughout the trial.
"I'll never be totally relieved," she said. "You lose a daughter, you lose a part of yourself."
Prosecutors Pete Connors and Judith Hawley said they were surprised that Glaze was not convicted of having planned the murders. "The thing we wanted most was for him to spend the rest of his life in prison, never to get out, and that's what we accomplished," Hawley said. "No other woman is going to die because of Billy Glaze being free."
Glaze's attorney Michael Colich said jurors apparently felt Glaze was responsible for the murders, but without premeditation.
The jurors refused to discuss their verdict with reporters.
Colich said that the three first-degree murder convictions for causing death during a sex assault appeared inconsistent. In two of the three murders, the victims might have been dead before they were assaulted, he said. First-degree murder convictions are automatically appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Colich asked Lebedoff to send Glaze to Oak Park Heights rather than Stillwater, saying that Stillwater would be a death penalty for Glaze because of threats made against him.
Glaze has been held in Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond since he was indicted in June 1988 for the deaths of Kathleen Bullman, Angeline Whitebird-Sweet and Angela Green.
The body of Bullman, 19, who had recently moved to Minneapolis from South Dakota, was found July 27, 1986, near Holden and 10th Sts., in a debris-strewn area frequented by transients. She died of strangulation, and a 3-foot steel pipe used in the assault was lying across her neck.
Angeline Whitebird-Sweet, 26, who had been in Minneapolis about six weeks, was found in an open field near the American Indian Center on E. Franklin Av., April 12, 1987. A wooden lath was found by her body, but police said they did not think it was the murder weapon.
The last victim was Angela Green, 21, who was found under a railroad bridge at Park Av. and 29th St. Her skull had been crushed with a rock. Her clothing was found about a block away.
All three had been viciously beaten, their clothing removed and their bodies posed.
During the two-week trial, Colich had urged the jury not to convict Glaze just because he was vulgar and foul-mouthed. He questioned the credibility of the state's witnesses, many of whom were transients or had criminal records, whose stories changed and became more favorable for the prosecution.
He also pointed to the lack of physical evidence linking Glaze to any of the three women or murder scenes.
Some of the blood found at the scene of the Whitebird-Sweet murder could not have come from either Glaze or the victim, according to expert testimony.
Connors told the jury in his closing argument Tuesday that Glaze had relished what he had done.
Pointing at Glaze, he said, "This man killed these women with a clear purpose to brutalize Indian women.
"He had a fury in his gut, he wanted to hurt them badly," Connors said. Born in Georgia, Glaze had drifted around the country, falsely telling people he was part Indian. He had a fascination with Indians and had AIM (American Indian Movement) tattooed on his left hand between his thumb and finger.
Glaze stayed at a mission in Albuquerque, N.M., run by the Rev. Curtis Ware in 1985 and again in 1987 before he was arrested. "He put everyone down but Indians," Ware testified at Glaze's trial.
But in the year he was in Minneapolis, Glaze told bartenders and patrons at a restaurant that Indian women should be sexually assaulted and killed. He also was seen frequently with Indian women, according to testimony.
Although he was placed in the same bars and geographical areas as Green, Whitebird-Sweet and Bullman, there was no direct evidence that he knew any of them well.
A key witness for the prosecution was Leroy Hamblin, a transient who said he witnessed the Bullman murder. He said nothing until after the third victim was found, and then he first told police a story about a similar murder in a dream. Other key pieces of evidence were a ring, a note, a book and a shoe print. Lois Morrison, with whom Glaze lived, gave police a pearl ring that Glaze gave her that was similar to one Green had worn. He said he bought the ring in a bar.
Near Green's body was a distinctive shoe print. Morrison told police that Glaze had bought a pair of tennis shoes in April 1987, and police matched the print to the brand of shoes Glaze had. No such shoes were found in Glaze's possession.
Glaze left Minneapolis May 2, 1987. He was arrested in Albuquerque, N.M., on May 24, 1987, on a traffic charge.
While being held in the Hennepin County Jail in the fall of 1987, Glaze wrote a note to inmate Gary Branchaud. "Don't let anyone here (sic) you, but not to let anyone know. I killed them. I was mad at
them." He also gave Branchaud the book "Murphy" whose cover blurb characterizes it as a small town sheriff's hunt for a serial killer. Portions were underlined that were similar to the serial killings of the Indian women.
Staff writer Pat Prince contributed to this report.