Friday, November 29, 2019

Sedley Alley: Tennessee: Deceased: Part two: Moving USA Today (Commercial Appeal Service) commentary by Memphis Commercial Appeal scribe Tonyaa Weathersbee notes a Mephis judge's ruling that Sedley Alley's daughter had no standing to request that his DNA be tested - adding that "that must change." Her cogent observation: 'DNA proof can't save Sedley Alley. But the truth can set his daughter free.'


"Blogger/extraordinaire Jeff Gamso's blunt, unequivocal, unforgettable message to the powers that be in California: "JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA." (Oh yes, Gamso raises, as he does in many of his posts, an important philosophical question: This post is headed: "What is truth, said jesting Pilate.")..."So what's the harm? What, exactly, are they scared of? Don't we want the truth?"


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This Blog is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination  (as well as false identification and jailhouse informants) – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the controversial ‘Reid Technique.’" 

Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;


COMMENTARY: "DNA proof can't save Sedley Alley. But the truth can set his daughter free," by

"A Memphis judge ruled that the daughter of executed killer and rapist Sedley Alley, had no standing to request that his DNA be tested. That must change.

GIST: "If Sedley Alley raped and murdered Lance Cpl. Suzanne Collins more than 30 years ago, DNA evidence won’t free him from prison He was executed for that crime 13 years ago. But if that evidence proves Alley did not commit that heinous crime, it would free his daughter, April, from the tortuous thought that her father was a monster. And if DNA proves he did it, then it will free her to move on with her life. Seems that kind of freedom would be easy to grant.  But not in Tennessee. Judge Paula Shakan recently rejected a petition requesting DNA testing for Alley. The Memphis judge said that Alley’s estate didn’t have standing to file a petition for DNA analysis under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act. Under that act, she wrote, the relative of a deceased inmate had no standing to bring a post-DNA conviction claim. The good news, though, is that Shakan allowed the DNA evidence that April Alley’s attorneys collected to be preserved – which means they get to fight another day. But who to fight? Do April Alley’s lawyers fight Shakan’s interpretation of state law? Or do they fight for the law to be changed? “You can do both at the same time,” said William Massey, a Memphis attorney who is working with the Innocence Project on the Alley case. “The judge’s decision hinged on the definition of a person as a representation of an estate. “I believe it will end up in the [Tennessee] Supreme Court.” That would be the same court that admitted it made a mistake by denying Alley’s request for DNA testing in 2006 shortly before he was executed. “So, they owe us one,” Massey said. On top of that Alley, who didn’t remember the crime, said that his confession was coerced. That’s not far-fetched – considering that of the more than 360 prisoners that the Innocence Project helped to exonerate through the use of DNA since 1989, more than a quarter of them had falsely confessed. Intimidation, either real or perceived, or the threat of bodily harm by interrogators contributes to false confessions, as does the suspect’s physical and mental state. “To me, there’s been a problem with those kind of interrogations around the country,” Massey said, citing the Reid Technique, an interrogation method that has been linked to an increasing number of false confessions. “It doesn’t leave bruises, but the psychological effect is devastating.” What’s more is that Tennessee has no law requiring recorded interrogations – which might have helped in Alley’s case – and which it can use now. Nonetheless, April Alley is a brave woman. If she isn’t afraid of possibly uncovering an awful truth, why should anyone else? “That’s what I thought since becoming involved with this case,” Massey said. “He [Alley] even told April: ‘If I did this, then I deserve what I get. But I don’t remember it.’” Unfortunately, people like Alley, an alcoholic and drug user, too easily fit the stereotype of someone who doesn’t deserve a chance at fairness. Alley’s shortcomings already had him vilified in society’s mind eye as someone who was worthless and viewed as undeserving of opportunity or mercy. It’s hard to ignore the hypocrisy here; of how the criminal justice is built on people paying for their mistakes, but, at least in Alley’s case, it won’t allow the DNA testing that could possibly reveal its mistake. Bottom line: If the science exists to prove innocence or guilt, the state must find a way to use it. If prison, and subsequently execution, denied April Alley a life with her father for a crime he may not have committed, she needs to know. And if the wrong man was executed for Collins’ death, her family needs to know. This shouldn’t be about prosecutors solidifying a win, but about a daughter solidifying the truth. Especially since Alley has already paid the ultimate price – either for his heinous deed or for the system’s heinous mistake."

The entire commentary can be read at:

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;