The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed on Wednesday an appeal by attorneys seeking to clear the name of a convicted Minneapolis serial killer who died in prison.
Citing new DNA evidence, attorneys working for the Minnesota Innocence project have been pushing for the past four years to exonerate Billy Glaze, who was convicted of killing three women decades earlier. Glaze died in 2015 before they could make their case.
A District Court judge later ruled that the attorneys’ appeal to have the case reviewed in hopes of clearing Glaze’s name died with Glaze.
In December, state Supreme Court justices heard arguments about whether Minnesota Innocence Project attorneys had standing to continue a petition for reviewing the case.
In an opinion published Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed that appeal, saying the attorneys lacked the authority to act on Glaze’s behalf. When Glaze died, the attorneys ceased to represent him, according to the Supreme Court opinion.
“Because the attorneys, who are not themselves aggrieved parties, do not have standing to seek review of the district court’s order, we lack appellate jurisdiction and must dismiss the appeal,” the court said.
Because Glaze was dead, his legal case needed to continue in the name of a personal representative. His attorneys requested that the personal representative appointed by a probate court also be recognized as the appellant in the legal case, but the District Court judge dismissed the case without ruling on the request, explained Ed Magarian, Glaze’s attorney.
In the case presented to the Supreme Court, Glaze was listed as the sole appellant. The Supreme Court ruling is based on a technicality, Magarian said.
“We’re deeply disappointed and disagree, but it’s what the court has done,” he said.
Magarian said he and the other attorneys involved in the case will decide whether to return to the Supreme Court to continue their fight, seek a posthumous pardon for Glaze from the governor or the president, or close this “very sad chapter of somebody who spent nearly 30 years in jail for three murders he didn’t commit.”
The Minnesota Innocence Project, which took up Glaze’s case, asked for a new trial in 2014, saying that new DNA evidence pointed to another man, a convicted rapist, as the killer. The three women — Kathy Bullman, 19; Angeline Whitebird-Sweet, 26; and Angela Green, 21 — were bludgeoned to death, and none of the DNA found at the crime scene linked Glaze to the murders, his attorneys said.
Glaze, who was serving three life sentences, had been incarcerated for 28 years when he fell ill with lung cancer and died in December 2015.
In taking their appeal to the Supreme Court, the attorneys for Glaze argued that despite his death, his name still deserved to be cleared and that the real killer needed to be brought to justice. The public has an interest in learning whether the justice system worked fairly, they said.
Prosecutors cited Glaze’s confession and have maintained all along that the right man was convicted.