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March 16, 1990


Appeal from Hennepin County District Court, Hon. Jonathan Lebedoff, Judge.

Popovich, C.j., Wahl, J., dissenting.

Heard, considered and decided by the court en banc.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Popovich

Although defendant did not receive error-free trial, he did receive a fair trial and was properly convicted of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of the lesser-included second degree murder.


POPOVICH, Chief Justice.

Defendant Billy Richard Glaze was found guilty by a jury of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of second degree murder for intentionally killing three women while committing perimortem sexual assaults and was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment. On appeal, Glaze seeks either an outright reversal on the ground the evidence was insufficient or a new trial because of the cumulative effect of trial errors. We affirm.


On July 27, 1986, three transients discovered the body of a Native American woman in the brush under a tree near a railroad warehouse at 10th and Holden in Minneapolis. Police officers found the woman lying on her back wearing only socks, and a blouse and bra that were pushed up onto her shoulders. A pair of black pants was lying over her right arm, two tennis shoes were nearby, and bloodstained underwear was beneath her. A three-foot-long metal pipe was lying across her throat and a stick or small branch was protruding from her vagina. A Hennepin County detention slip issued to Kathleen Bullman was found inside one of her socks. An autopsy indicated the cause of death was lack of oxygen to the brain due to pressure on the neck, with facial trauma as a contributing factor. Circular lacerations and abrasions on Bullman's face, neck and abdomen were consistent with the pipe found on her throat. Her mouth was badly injured, with many broken teeth. An internal examination showed the stick had penetrated her vaginal wall and entered her abdominal cavity, although no injury to the external genitalia was present. The medical examiner opined the stick was inserted perimortem--around the time of Bullman's death.

On April 12, 1987, George Big Bear reported finding the body of a Native American woman in back of the American Indian Center at Franklin and Bloomington Avenues in Minneapolis. Police officers found the woman, later identified as Angeline Whitebird Sweet, naked except for a red bandana around her neck, on her back with her legs in a "stirrup" position. Her face, chest and arms were covered with blood and a tree branch was sticking out of her vagina. A shoe print was visible in the blood on her chest and a bloodstained wooden slat lay near her body. Clothing, which apparently belonged to Sweet, was found nearby. An autopsy indicated the cause of Sweet's death was lack of oxygen, in part the result of trauma to her head. Sweet suffered multiple blunt-instrument traumas to her head, her mouth was lacerated with numerous dental injuries, and she had bruises on her arms. A tree branch had been thrust into her vagina more than once, penetrating the vaginal wall and bladder, entering the abdominal cavity and bowel, and lacerating her liver. Although the branch was inserted while Sweet was dying, there was no injury to the external genitalia.

Ronald Blankinship discovered a body on April 29, 1987, under the Park Avenue railroad bridge in Minneapolis and called the police. Officers found the naked Native American woman, subsequently identified as Angela Green, lying on her right side with her knees bent. The back of her head was crushed and a large piece of bamboo was protruding from her vagina. Several pieces of concrete and a large bloodstained cinder block lay near her body. Green's clothing was found hanging from nearby trees. The autopsy indicated the cause of death was traumatic head injuries. Green had numerous lacerations and bruises on her face and head, her lip was torn, two teeth were missing and her skull was fractured. Injuries to her back were consistent with the shape of the bricks found at the scene. The bamboo stick penetrated Green's vaginal wall and uterus and entered her abdominal cavity. The medical examiner opined the stick had been inserted near the time of death and was moved about inside Green's body.

Shortly after Green's death, the Minneapolis Police Department formed a task force to investigate the murders. The task force had no leads until May 4, 1987, when Rae Flugge reported that a man named Jesse Coulter, a frequent customer in the Band Box Cafe in Minneapolis where she waitressed, might be a suspect. It was later learned that Jesse Coulter, whose real name is Billy Richard Glaze, also went by the name Jesse Sitting Crow.

Lois Morrison, who lived with Glaze, told the police during an investigative interview that Glaze left Minnesota on May 2, 1987. Although in a phone conversation Glaze asked her not to tell anyone where he was, Morrison informed the police he was in New Mexico. Minneapolis officials notified New Mexico authorities of their investigation and, on May 24, 1987, Glaze was arrested in Albuquerque for a traffic offense. Glaze was returned to Minnesota where he voluntarily submitted hair, blood and saliva samples to the authorities for testing.

Several people testified they heard Glaze frequently make derogatory statements about Native American women in general, as well as specific statements expressing his desire or intent to sexually assault them with knives, sticks and other objects. A television reporter, Bernard Grace, interviewed Glaze in June 1987. Grace testified Glaze told him he had been fascinated with Native Americans all his life, lied about being a Native American, admitted he lied frequently and denied committing the murders. In his interview with Grace, Glaze denied making any derogatory statements about Native American women. On appeal, Glaze also points to testimony that he never had a nice thing to say about anybody, not just Native American women.

Testimony at trial indicated Glaze was acquainted with each of the victims. Three individuals saw Glaze with Bullman at various times; Sweet brought Glaze to one individual's home; and one individual saw Glaze standing next to Green at a bar the night before or the night of her murder.

Distinguishing relevant physical evidence at the crime scenes was difficult because each of the murders occurred in a debris-littered transient area. Glaze's fingerprints were not found on any of the items seized from the scenes that were printed. Tests performed on the semen, saliva and hair samples found on or near the victims did not implicate Glaze. Hair in a black "Coors Light" hat recovered from the Green murder scene was "Negroid" and "did not come from Billy Glaze." Testimony at trial indicated Green worked for a Black pimp who was seen wearing a black hat with a "Coors Light" logo. Sweet had the same blood type as Glaze, but they had different enzyme types. Typing done on bloodstains recovered from the Sweet scene indicated two samples consistent with either Sweet or Glaze; two samples consistent with Sweet but not Glaze; and one sample not consistent with either Sweet or Glaze.

In April 1987, Glaze gave Morrison a pearl ring. The ring was identified at trial as similar to one owned by Green and several individuals testified they believed Green was wearing the ring the day she was murdered. Glaze, however, told Morrison he bought the ring in a bar.

Enlarged photographs of shoe prints found in the sand near Green's body indicated the word "TRAX" on the sole. *fn1 Police officers determined this brand is sold exclusively at K-Mart stores and concluded, based on measurements, the print was consistent with a size ten shoe. Morrison testified Glaze bought a pair of size ten tennis shoes at K-Mart in April 1987.

Leroy Hamblin, an inmate at the Stillwater Correctional Facility, testified that while he was drinking on July 27, 1986, with other transients at a camp located near 10th and Holden in Minneapolis he witnessed a woman's murder. He identified Glaze, whom he had previously met, from photographic lineups and at trial as the murderer. Hamblin had already seen a photo of Glaze before being interviewed by the police. He also recognized the murdered woman as a Native American woman he had seen at a bar earlier that evening. In June 1987 Hamblin discussed a newspaper article about the serial killings with Al Gettle, another inmate. Hamblin told Gettle he met a man in Montana who had had a dream about the murder. The police interviewed Hamblin after Gettle notified them Hamblin might have information about the murders. Hamblin initially repeated his "dream" story to the police. When officers confronted Hamblin with information that refuted this story, he admitted he lied and then claimed he had actually witnessed Bullman's murder.

In December 1987, while an inmate at the Hennepin County workhouse, Kevin Broen read a newspaper article about the murders, which contained a photograph of Glaze, and contacted the Hennepin County Attorney's office. Broen reported, as he testified at trial, that he had observed a man, whom he later identified as Glaze, standing on the bridge at 29th and Park in Minneapolis the morning of April 29, 1987. When Broen passed back over the bridge a half hour later, he observed Glaze still standing there. Green's body was found beneath the bridge a short time later. Broen testified he did not contact the police earlier because a warrant was out for his arrest.

Eric Forbes was incarcerated in the same Ramsey County jail unit as Glaze in May 1988, after Glaze was returned from New Mexico. Forbes testified Glaze made several sexual statements about women to him and also stated he hated "squaws." Forbes also testified Glaze showed him a newspaper article about the murders containing a quotation from Minneapolis Police Chief Tony Bouza that "e should find [the murderer] and execute him." According to Forbes, Glaze then said he wanted to confess but was afraid he would be executed. Deputy Kim Swirtz testified Glaze told her he was supposed to be transferred to a single jail cell "because I'm the serial killer."

In September 1988, Glaze was incarcerated at the Hennepin County detention center with Gary Branchaud. Branchaud testified Glaze told him, "I can't believe I killed them. I killed them with my hands." Branchaud later wrote in a note to Glaze, "Billy, don't let anyone know about your case like that." Glaze returned the note to Branchaud after writing on it, "Don't let anyone hear you, but not to let anyone know, I killed them. I was mad at them." Defense counsel stipulated at trial to testimony from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension handwriting expert that this note and others given to the police by Branchaud were written by Glaze.

Branchaud also testified Glaze gave him a book entitled Murphy about a sheriff tracking a serial killer. According to Branchaud, Glaze underlined passages in the book and said the book was about the things that he was being accused of. Counsel also stipulated to testimony from the BCA handwriting expert that one latent fingerprint was located on the book and was positively identified as a fingerprint of Gary Branchaud. In exchange for Branchaud's "truthful, complete and accurate about his contacts with" Glaze, an agreement was entered ...

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