Executed man's daughter asks court to order DNA testing in 1985 murder conviction

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lawyers representing the estate of a man convicted and executed for a 1986 rape and murder of a Marine Corps lance corporal in Millington argued Monday in a Shelby County courtroom that DNA could exonerate him.

The lawyers represent April Alley, the daughter of Sedley Alley.

Alley was executed by the State of Tennessee in 2006 for the brutal rape and murder of 19-year-old Suzanne Marie Collins, a lance corporal stationed at Naval Air Station Memphis in Millington.

Alley confessed to the murder, but later said he had no recollection of the crime.

Lawyers for the Alley Estate argued that if Alley were alive today, DNA testing would happen.

In court, Barry Scheck argued that the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution affords Alley’s estate the right to get DNA tested in this case.

“It is clear that if we don’t get a DNA test in this case, it is wrong,” said Scheck. “It is fundamentally unfair. He was entitled to that test. The Tennessee Supreme Court has said that and now we come back and just try to find the truth. It is fundamentally unfair if anything is.”

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The state argued that the estate has no right to ask the court to test DNA, and said that right “belongs to a person that has been convicted and sentenced,” an attorney for the state said in court.

Attorneys for the state did not speak with reporters after the hearing.

Attorneys for Alley’s family spoke briefly, insisting they wouldn’t talk about the substance of the case.

April Alley did not speak. Her attorneys said she “wants to know the truth” about what happened.

The lawyers, made up of members from The Innocence Project, did ask three people to speak after the hearing. Those three people were all exonerated while on death row.

“The State of Tennessee should be entitled to the truth and April Alley should be entitled to the truth,” said Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American to be exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing while on death row. “What’s the problem with testing the DNA?”

“We have fought so long to try to make a difference in this country and I just want you guys to test the DNA, please,” said Sabrina Butler, a Mississippi woman who became the first woman exonerated on death row.

“Our system is about the truth. Our system is about facts. We have the ability with DNA testing and as a Tennessee resident, I’d like to be proud of my state to know that we will do the right thing. We do search for the truth,” said Ray Krone, who became the 100th former death row inmate freed.

The judge in this case is expected to make a ruling by Nov. 18.