News Release

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Calls for Tennessee to #TestTheDNA in the Sedley Alley Case

Nashville, TN (May 2, 2019) – In 2006, the State of Tennessee executed Sedley Alley for murder in a case his attorneys maintain had the “tell-tale signs of a wrongful conviction and DNA evidence that could have proved his innocence.” Yesterday, Sedley’s daughter April Alley announced that she is petitioning the criminal court in Shelby County, Tennessee, for post-conviction DNA testing in her father’s case. In addition, Ms. Alley also requested that Tennessee Governor Bill Lee exercise his authority as governor to order that the previously untested evidence from the crime scene be tested.  

“The practice of state-sponsored execution in America is nothing less than a national disgrace,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Drew Findling. “We know for a fact that numerous individuals have been wrongly convicted of capital and other offenses in the United States. We know this because, since the advent of DNA testing thirty years ago, some 365 people have been exonerated owing to that DNA evidence. Twenty of those individuals had served time on death row. Armed with the knowledge that the criminal justice system can yield such profoundly erroneous results, it is inconceivable that states like Tennessee continue to engage in state-sponsored execution. Now, Tennessee must test this evidence. While no outcome of that testing can ever bring back Mr. Alley, we must know the truth. And we must end the scourge of the death penalty – immediately.” 

Ms. Alley and her attorneys held a press conference yesterday in Nashville, which included Sabrina Butler and Ray Krone, who are members of Witness to Innocence and were exonerated from death row. A video of that press conference is available here.  

Join the Innocence Project, NACDL, and many others in calling for Tennessee to #TestTheDNA. A link to the Innocence Project’s online petition is available here.  

Additional information about the Sedley Alley case and this latest development is available from the Innocence ProjectNew York Times, and the Memphis Commercial Appeal

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Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.