Tenn. Governor Grants Reprieve to Death Row Inmate

Gov. Phil Bredesen granted a 15-day reprieve to a man who was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old Marine in 1985.

The State Board of Probation and Parole recommended that the governor issue the reprieve to allow further DNA testing. Bredesen said Tuesday that he believes the man is guilty, but he reluctantly issued the reprieve out of respect for the board's recommendation.

The governor ordered defense attorneys to request the new testing in Shelby County, where the crime took place. If the courts reject the testing, the state Supreme Court would be asked to set a new execution date.

Sedley Alley confessed to most of the crime, which included raping and impaling Marine Lance Cpl. Suzanne M. Collins with a tree branch, but has recanted his statement to police.

Defense lawyers want to test the evidence to determine if any DNA matches a boyfriend or someone in the federal criminal DNA database.

If the execution had proceeded, it would have been the second time since 1960 that Tennessee had put an inmate to death.