Judge expected to rule Nov. 18 in Sedley Alley DNA case

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April Alley, daughter of Sedley Alley, listens as Barry Scheck, Innocence Project co-director, speaks Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, during a hearing at the Shelby County courthouse in Memphis. (Photo: Max Gersh / The Commercial Appeal)

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan heard arguments Monday on whether DNA testing should be allowed in a firstof-its-kind case that could result in the exoneration of a man executed for a 34-year-old murder.

Attorneys for April Alley and the state presented arguments in the case involving Alley’s father, Sedley Alley, who was executed by Tennessee in 2006. Skahan did not issue a decision Monday and is expected to rule Nov. 18. If testing is allowed and it clears Sedley of the crime, it would be the first case in the nation of a person being exonerated posthumously through DNA testing, according to the nonprofit Innocence Project. Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, addressed the court first and argued DNA testing should be allowed in the death of Lance Cpl. Suzanne Collins in Edmund Orgill Park, just outside the Millington Naval base, on July 12, 1985.

Collins was stationed at the base and was set to graduate from the air training school the day her body was found. She had been brutally beaten – struck 100 times, strangled and sexually assaulted with a tree branch. Sedley Alley, whose wife was stationed at the Millington base, was arrested the day after Collins’ slaying. He confessed to the crime but later recanted, saying the confession was coerced and that he could not remember what happened because he had been drinking heavily the night of the slaying.

“The primary reason we are here is that April Alley wants to know the truth,” Scheck said. “She has the courage to seek the truth here, and DNA testing can – as it has in hundreds of post-conviction cases since we founded the Innocence Project 28 years ago – provide that truth. “ Scheck told the court the Innocence Project began working on the case 13 years ago when he and his team fought to get DNA evidence tested under the state’s post-conviction DNA Analysis Act.

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