A Saunders County man was sentenced to prison Monday for threatening a witness who testified against him in one of the oldest cold-case homicides ever to go to trial in Nebraska.
Jeffrey Glazebrook, 52, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years for tampering with a witness and making terroristic threats. The felony penalties were enhanced because of his habitual criminal status, and he will be required to serve at least 20 years.
Glazebrook was convicted in 2009 of the 1977 murder of Sadie May McReynolds of Ashland.
Earlier this year, Sarpy County jurors found him guilty of witness tampering and making a terroristic threat during the murder trial, when four jurors and Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz reported seeing Glazebrook mouth “I will kill you” while a jailhouse informant was on the stand.
“This man’s continued disregard for the law proves he is a threat to society,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said. “We’re pleased the court recognized this danger and put Mr. Glazebrook behind bars where he belongs.”
Prosecutors said Glazebrook was 17 when he sexually assaulted the retired teacher at her home. McReynolds, 97, died two weeks later from health complications triggered by the assault.
Last year, the Nebraska Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Glazebrook, siding with Saunders County Public Defender Thomas Klein and Jerry Soucie of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, who said DNA evidence did not conclusively link him to the crime scene.
Prosecutors filed murder charges against Glazebrook in 2008 after a grand jury indictment, but the Supreme Court ruled that, among other things, the trial court was wrong to admit evidence of his prior criminal offenses including the 1978 assault of a 57-year-old Ashland woman and 1991 sexual assault of a 45-year-old Lincoln woman.
After the new trial was ordered, Soucie discovered evidence that cast doubt on the jailhouse informant, who said Glazebrook told him he committed the murder. Charles Goodwin, who said he served time in jail with Glazebrook in 1978, said Glazebrook told him he raped and murdered an old teacher. Goodwin said Glazebrook told him the teacher owed him money for work he had done at her home. Glazebrook denied knowing Goodwin.
At the heart of the McReynolds case were results of DNA testing on hair recovered from the crime scene.
Prosecutors used mitochondrial DNA, which is found within cells that convert chemical energy from food into a form of energy cells can use. In most species, including humans, mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother.
After the high court ruling, Saunders County Attorney Scott Tingelhoff moved to dismiss the murder charge, saying only that a set of “unique circumstances” led to him asking that the charges be dropped.
Tingelhoff said he planned to refile them later.
He has yet to do so.