In 2006, Sedley Alley was executed in Tennessee for raping and killing a young U.S. Marine corporal in the 1980s.
Now, roughly 13 years after his death, the man’s daughter, April Alley, is petitioning a Tennessee court to have DNA evidence from the case — which has supposedly never been examined — tested in an attempt to potentially pinpoint a second suspect.
“The courts got it wrong in 2006 when they allowed Mr. Alley to be executed before testing the DNA," attorney Barry Scheck told Oxygen.com.
Scheck, the co-founder of the Innocence Project, which helps overturn wrongful convictions and prison sentences, thinks the Alley family should be allowed some closure.
Alley's daughter, he explained, is seeking the truth behind whether her father actually carried out the murder and sexual assault of 19-year-old Suzanne Collins, who was killed while out for a jog, the New York Daily News reported. The woman had been severely beaten, strangled and impaled with a tree branch. Investigators said she had been struck at least 100 times.
“April Alley wants to know the truth,” Scheck told the Daily News. “She has the courage to seek the truth. DNA testing can … provide that truth."
Scheck says he was contacted by St. Louis police, who said they might have information on another potential suspect, the Associated Press reported.
However, a legal technicality may prevent Alley, who’s the executor of her father’s estate, from being able to admit the necessary DNA evidence to the court.
Steve Jones, the assistant district attorney for Shelby County has challenged Alley’s efforts to have the DNA evidence from her father’s case tested. Jones cited Tennessee’s DNA analysis law, which only gives an individual convicted of a crime the ability to request court-ordered testing.
“The estate of the person has no standing,” said Larry Buser, a spokesperson for Jones’ office, in a statement to Oxygen.com.
Buser cited a nine-page response from Jones' office to Alley's petition and noted that the convicted killer had previously confessed to his crimes, “both to law enforcement and to his own wife.” Buser claimed that Alley didn’t contest the legitimacy of his confession until 2004, which the spokesperson said was roughly 30 days before his originally scheduled execution.
“Alley is no longer a prisoner and his judgment became final with his execution 13 years ago,” Buser added. “He has had his day in court, many times over, in state and federal courts.”
He also added that the Tennessee Supreme Court stated that Alley’s guilt “‘was established at the level of absolute certainty.’”
Even if new DNA was found now, Jones said it still wouldn’t exonerate Alley, the Associated Press reported.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s spokesperson declined to comment further.
The Innocence Project believes, however, that Alley’s confession was coerced. A witness description, they also note, didn’t match Alley.
"If Mr. Alley were alive today, he would be entitled to DNA testing under the Powers ruling and the plain language of the post-conviction DNA analysis statute," Scheck told Oxygen.com. "We now have a chance to learn the truth in this case."
A pair of men’s underwear, discovered near the murder scene, contain the DNA evidence in question, according to the Associated Press.
A ruling on the case is scheduled for Nov. 18, according to the Daily Memphian.
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