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October 24, 2014

Lawyers say DNA tests show convicted Mpls. serial killer’s innocence

Attorneys representing a Minneapolis man serving three life sentences for murder say new DNA evidence shows he is innocent while the actual killer remains free.

KARE 11 and MPR News report the Innocence Project of Minnesota is seeking a new trial for Billy Glaze based on the fresh evidence.

Glaze was convicted of raping and murdering women in three separate cases dating from 1986 and ’87. The stations report the Innocence Project has had three different laboratories test dozens of pieces of evidence found at the crime scenes. While Glaze’s DNA was found on none of them, DNA from another man – a convicted rapist – turned up at two of the sites.

That man, the Innocence Project says, is living in Minneapolis and was interviewed by police as recently as 2012 for being a sex offender who had failed to register with authorities.

An attorney with the Project, Julie Jonas, tells MPR/KARE prosecutors did the best they could with the forensic tools they had to work with in the 1980s, but DNA analysis has made strides since then and can reveal much more.

“If they would have had what they have now against this person who really did the crimes, he would have been the one who was arrested, ” Jonas said. “Billy Glaze would never have gone to prison for all those 27 years.”

The Innocence Project started in 1989 and says it has helped exonerate more than 1,300 wrongfully convicted inmates, using new DNA evidence in more than 300 of the cases.

The Star Tribune reports the group’s Minnesota chapter was started in 2002 and this is the first time it has requested a new trial based on DNA analysis.

The Project has used other types of new evidence to free Minnesotans. Perhaps the best-known case was that of Koua Fong Lee. The jury that convicted Lee of criminal vehicular  homicide in 2007 rejected his defense that the accelerator pedal in his Toyota had stuck, causing him to rear-end another vehicle.

The Innocence Project of Minnesota collected reports of similar problems with Toyota vehicles around the country. A judge ordered a new trial in 2010 but prosecutors dropped the charges, freeing Lee.

A Star Tribune columnist profiled Lee last month as he graduated from Inver Hills Community College.