Estate of inmate executed 13 years ago plans to file appeal after judge rules against DNA testing

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A Memphis judge ruled Monday that the daughter of an inmate executed 13 years ago for murder does not have the right to have DNA tested. 

Sedley Alley was convicted of the 1985 murder of Suzanne Collins. His daughter wants the crime scene evidence tested, in hopes that it will exonerate him. 

The judge said Tennessee law does not permit the estate of a dead inmate to ask for DNA testing. She ruled that means the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in this matter.

It is not the ruling Alley’s lawyers had hoped for.  

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

Alley originally confessed to killing but then later recanted his confession. Alley was executed in 2006.

In court Monday, Judge Paula Skahan said Alley’s arguments were best addressed to the Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Alley’s lawyers say that’s because the issue of an estate asking for DNA testing after a person has been executed has never been litigated before in the state of Tennessee

“April Alley, standing in the shoes of her father and his estate, this ruling is saying that the estate did not have standing to challenge to even seek testing at all,” said Josie Holland, Alley Lawyer.

The Innocence Project and Tennessee Lawyers filed the petition for testing after it was discovered a possible serial killer took classes at the same school as Collins.

A statement from The Innocence Project said:

“We are very disappointed in today’s decision and have already filed a notice of appeal. The petition simply asks for testing of available DNA evidence, which could be done within 30 to 60 days. It will now take months, if not years, to go through the courts to finally get to the truth in this matter.”

April Alley was not in court Monday, but in a statement said she was heartbroken. Alley’s team is filing an appeal.

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