One day after the Innocence Project filed a petition asking a Hennepin County judge to grant convicted Minneapolis serial killer Billy Glaze a new trial, the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office decided to take another look at his case.
In 1989, a jury convicted Glaze of raping and murdering three American Indian women. But Innocence Project lawyers say new DNA evidence found at two of the crime scenes exonerates Glaze and points to another killer.
The national group has made headlines nationwide using new types of DNA analysis to re-open criminal cases. It claims to have exonerated more than 300 inmates.
Here are key questions on the latest developments:
Are authorities taking the new findings seriously?
According to a Minneapolis Police commander, investigators are following up on all available leads. And this is a case nearly three decades old so that isn't easy. Police are interviewing people, reviewing evidence and working with the county attorney's office to figure out what's next.
For its part, the Hennepin County Attorney's office now has two prosecutors looking at the case of Billy Glaze. Yesterday, the Innocence Project filed a petition asking for a new trial. The County Attorney's office now gets a chance to respond to that and ultimately a judge will decide.
What's the reaction from people who were key players in the original police investigation and trial?
It's a trip down memory lane for some of these folks — and not a good memory. These were horrific crime scenes and when the serial killer was on the loose, the community lived in fear.
John Laux, who was the city's deputy police chief when the killings happened and head of police investigations, said police did what they could with the tools they had at the time — and everything pointed to Billy Glaze.
"We had to follow the rules and make sure that we're not taking shortcuts just out of revenge we gotta get somebody," Laux said. "No, we gotta get the right guys. And we thought we had the right guy. I'm still not convinced frankly that we don't have the right guy, but there is certainly enough evidence being uncovered that we need to take an in depth second look."
Laux points to the advances in DNA analysis to investigate crimes and how far the technology has come. If someone else's DNA was found at the crime scene, he said, that's strong evidence.
What about the lawyer who represented Glaze at the trial?
Mike Colich is now a top Twin Cities criminal defense attorney. Colich said the case has always stuck with him. He argued during the trial that there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict Glaze beyond a reasonable doubt — but there was no DNA analysis at the time to help his case.
Colich said the new revelations are compelling.
"If we had had the same information that they apparently have today," he said, "I think the outcome would be different. I do. It was a horrible thing that happened to the women. It's equally as horrible for a man to go to prison for something he didn't do and for the better part of this life."
What's next in the legal process?
The Hennepin County Attorney's office will have a chance to respond to the petition filed by the Innocence Project.
They asked for a new trial because — legally speaking — that's what they are allowed to do. But what Innocence Project lawyers really want is for the charges against Glaze to be dismissed and the man behind bars for nearly 30 years to be released. No doubt this could be a very long process.