NEW YORK (CNN) – Lawyers in Minnesota say newly-discovered DNA evidence may prove a man convicted as a serial killer is innocent.
This case is about a man who has been in prison for 27 years for a horrible crime he did not commit.
Attorney Ed Magarian says the “innocence project” has spent the last decade reviewing the case of Billy Glaze, a drifter who was convicted in the mutilation-style murders of three women in Minneapolis; Kathleen Bullman, Angeline Whitebird Sweet and Angela green.
He claims modern day science shows Glaze didn’t do it. It’s something that the state could not have known back in the 1980s, but we know it today.
The murders happened in 1986 and 1987, three women all Native American. All in their late teens and 20’s, all found raped and murdered.
Police thought the same man killed all three and the pressure was on to find the serial killer.
“I remember it being a scary time. I lived in Minneapolis. I was about the age of these women,” Julie Jonas said.
Julie Jonas is one of the “innocence project” lawyers who believes in the frenzy to find the killer, police focused on the wrong man.
“As soon as they found him and he’s an outsider to the community, he does seem like the usual suspect,” Jonas continued.
That’s because Glaze had a prior rape conviction in Texas.
He’d left Minneapolis abruptly, shortly after the third murder, and in this 1987 jail house interview with KARE 11’s Bernie Grace he even admitted to a mean streak.
Witnesses said Billy Glaze often had been heard making derogatory comments about Native American women; even so, he denied the murders.
“I did not murder nobody. I couldn’t murder nobody. I don’t have it in my heart to,” Glaze said.
At the time of the Minneapolis murders, police didn’t have much physical evidence, just a possible footprint to link Billy Glaze to the crimes.
But they did have inmates who testified they heard Glaze admit to the murders.
And one man who claimed he’d actually seen Glaze with one of the victims before she was killed.
In this new affidavit a key witness admits he made up the story about seeing Glaze with one of the victims because at the time, “My probation officer was putting pressure on me to assist police.”
It’s attached to a petition filed asking the court to throw out Glaze’s conviction and order a new trial.
In an interview via skype the Innocence Project’s legal expert on DNA analysis told us the real break-through came thanks to new science, “genetic fingerprinting”
That makes 1980’s blood-typing seem as outdated as the telegraph.
“The wire telegram versus the smartphone of today. They’re just not comparable,” said Olga Akselrod
Olga Akselrod says a series of sophisticated new tests were performed on more than three dozen different items collected at the original murder scenes. Not a single item came back with Billy Glaze’s DNA.
But she says the new DNA analysis did reveal something else, a possible clue about the real killer.
From the start Billy Glaze claimed someone else committed the murders and, now, just like he predicted the DNA fingerprinting has turned up matches to someone else.
In 2012, innocence project investigators learned that new tests on an old swab taken from one of the original murder victims produced a full DNA match to another rapist.
Then, about a month ago, another new test, this time on a cigarette butt found at a second murder scene revealed a partial match to the same man.
It shows you that one person had sex with one of the victims very near to the time of her death and that same person left a cigarette butt, a fresh cigarette butt just a few feet from the second victim’s body.
So, who is the new suspect? He’s not named in the public court papers.
But KARE 11 has learned he’s an ex-convict apparently free, now, after serving time for a 1989 rape in Minneapolis.
What’s more records from that case show the victim was another Native American woman just like in the string of three murders. And in the 1989 assault, she was also brutally attacked, but, unlike the others, was able to escape.
Records also show the man who raped her was arrested again in 2012 for failing to register as a sex offender.
Detectives questioned him about the old murders, but that was before the latest DNA match.
Although he’s been in and out of jail over the years records also show he was out at the time of each of the three murders. And at last report, he’s free again.
That’s why attorneys for the innocence project say they have also turned the new information over to authorities.
And that’s the scary thing. The person who really did this is still out in our community.
The man whose DNA was found at two crime scenes hasn’t been charged or arrested.