Minneapolis Prisoner Dies, but Attorneys Continue Work to Clear His Name

By Kirk Anderson on February 11, 2016

When Billy Glaze died, he died a serial killer. Many individuals in Indianapolis are familiar with the case, so they know he sat behind bars for 25 years before he died.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2015 and all the while, the Minnesota Innocence Project was working to free him. They were able to introduce new DNA evidence to the court, stating that another man had committed the rapes of the victims. The other man was found to be a convicted rapist. The attorneys with the Minnesota Innocence Project claimed that none of the evidence linked Glaze to the murders.

Now Glaze has died, so it leaves a question mark as to what needs to occur with his case, especially since it is the first of its kind. This means a judge will have to decide whether or not Glaze could be exonerated posthumously because of DNA evidence.

Hennepin County prosecutors moved in January 2016 to have Glaze’s latest arguments dismissed, stating that the case is no longer an issue since Glaze died. The prosecutors remain confident that they imprisoned the right man and that a new trial wasn’t necessary. They say the case was over when he died.

Innocence Project attorneys say that the stakes lie in Glaze’s reputation. It is also in the best interest of the public to learn whether or not justice worked in this case. Another important question is whether or not the person who really committed the crimes is still free.

When Glaze was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was serving three life sentences for the rapes and murders. He had exhausted his appeals and asked the Minnesota Innocence Project for help over 10 years ago.

His conviction came in 1989 when he was found guilty of the murders of three women.

At the trial, several witnesses said they saw Glaze with the women before they were murdered. This placed him near all of the crime scenes. Some said that Glaze made violent sexual remarks. A transient said he saw one of the killings. A woman that Glaze was living with gave police a pearl ring that she said was a gift from glaze. The ring was similar to one worn by one of the victims. Glaze said he bought the ring from someone at a bar. A jail inmate testified that Glaze stated in a note that he had killed the victims.

The Minnesota Innocence Project finally took on Glaze’s case in 2014 and they asked for a new trial. Nearly 40 items found at the crime scene were tested for DNA and none of them belonged to Glaze. Instead, the DNA was linked to another man.

Long after being convicted, Glaze confessed to murders committed in California, although he was never prosecuted for those crimes. The reason was because his attorneys said he confessed due to wanting to be moved to a prison there. He confessed once to the Minnesota killings and his attorneys contended the confession was forced.

Now Glaze’s attorneys are working to get a hearing in an effort to have Glaze exonerated. In another case, a judge dismissed the petition because the prisoner had died and no longer had restraints on her liberty. Glaze’s attorneys have cited cases in other states in order to make their case.