The daughter of a man executed in Tennessee is hoping to prove her father’s innocence through a DNA test, 13 years after his death from lethal injection. DNA technology was still developing in the 1980s when the murder conviction was passed down. April Alley now hopes that advances in the technology will help her case.
Her father, Sedley Alley, was convicted in 1985 of the murder of Marine Lance Cpl Suzanne Collins. The 19-year-old had been out jogging when she was kidnapped, beaten, raped and killed. Alley initially confessed to the crime, but later claimed his confession was coerced. He was put to death by lethal injection in 2006.
Following a tip to the Innocence Project from law enforcement officers that detail a possible alternative perpetrator, Ms Alley has asked a judge to order the DNA testing of evidence in the case. Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck, who received the tip about the possible alternative murderer, is supporting Ms Alley.
“It’s too late for my father, but it’s not too late to find the truth”, April Alley said in May, when she petitioned the Memphis criminal court to test DNA evidence from her father’s case.
There was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, Mr Scheck, told The Washington Post. He noted that neither the shoe prints nor tire tracks belonged to Sedley Alley.
DNA testing could provide the truth
Mr Scheck argued in court that the issue is a matter of justice, and the court could resolve the issue with a DNA test.
“April Alley wants to know the truth. She has the courage to seek the truth. DNA testing can .. provide the truth,” he said.
The evidence that they want DNA testing includes a pair of men’s underwear found at the scene of the crime. The item of clothing would not have been tested in the 1980s because DNA tests then were still relatively primitive.
However, Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Steve Jones has argued that the state cannot go forward with the testing. According to him, state law only allows a person convicted of a crime to require testing.
Mr Jones also argued that the existence of someone else’s DNA would not exonerate Sedley Alley, since he was convicted on “a combination of factors that corroborated his confession”.
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