Judge dismisses family’s petition for new DNA testing in effort to exonerate man executed in 2006

Updated: Nov. 18, 2019 at 4:34 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A judge has ruled that the family of a man executed after murder and rape convictions has no standing to request new DNA testing.

Attorneys for Sedley Alley’s family were in court last month asking a judge for DNA testing they believed would exonerate Alley 13 years after his death sentence was carried out in 2006. The judge dismissed the family’s petition Monday.

It was a first for the state of Tennessee -- the first time a Tennessee judge ruled on a attempt to exonerate a person posthumously.

“The Supreme Court of Tennessee and the legislature may see things differently in the future. But at this time the petition is dismissed,” said Judge Paula Skahan.

In the 26-page order, Skahan wrote Tennessee laws “do not permit the estate of a deceased inmate to file a petition seeking post-conviction DNA on the inmate’s behalf.”

Alley was found guilty in 1985 for the rape and murder of 19-year-old U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Suzanne Marie Collins, of Millington. He confessed to the crimes, but attorneys for the Innocence Project believe a man awaiting trial for murder in St. Louis may be the actual killer and that Alley’s confession was fake.

“The truth should not be buried with Sedley Alley if indeed the DNA will provide that truth then we should allow testing,” said attorney William Massey.

Alley’s daughter’s fight for the truth and to clear her father’s name is not over.

“There is new DNA testing available and that testing would give us a reasonable probability that Mr. Alley did not commit these crimes as alleged,” said attorney Josie Holland.

Attorneys will appeal Monday’s ruling with plans to take it to the Tennessee Supreme Court if needed.

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