Exonerees speak as family of executed man petitions for DNA testing
Sabrina Butler-Smith, Ray Krone, and Kirk Bloodsworth spoke at a press conference in response to a petition from the family of Sedley Alley. Alley was executed 13 years ago without testing DNA from several pieces of evidence in his case. His family is now asking for these items to be tested in order to clear Alley's name and find the true perpetrator. Many of our exonerees have been working with this case based on their own personal experience with untested DNA. WTI executive director Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first person to be exonerated from death row based on post-conviction DNA testing, knows first hand how important DNA testing is and has been working with the family of Sedley Alley and the legal team.
“The State of Tennessee should be entitled to the truth and April Alley should be entitled to the truth,” said Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American to be exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing while on death row. “What’s the problem with testing the DNA?”
“We have fought so long to try to make a difference in this country and I just want you guys to test the DNA, please,” said Sabrina Butler, a Mississippi woman who became the first woman exonerated on death row.
“Our system is about the truth. Our system is about facts. We have the ability with DNA testing and as a Tennessee resident, I’d like to be proud of my state to know that we will do the right thing. We do search for the truth,” said Ray Krone, who became the 100th former death row inmate freed.
Bloodsworth, the first American sentenced to death to be exonerated by DNA testing, spoke about his own conviction for the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl before DNA proved his innocence and allowed the true assailant to be identified. While Sedley Alley was alive, Bloodsworth had spoken before the Board of Probation and Parole on Alley’s behalf. “I was very disturbed,” Bloodsworth said. "I thought you should test the DNA. At the end of the day, this is all we’re trying to do. We have a criminal justice system that’s adversarial in nature, but it cannot be adversarial to the truth. In my opinion, we should test it.”
Butler became the first woman exonerated from death row after being convicted of killing her nine-month-old son. On Monday, she spoke about the pain of losing her son and expressed her sympathy for April Alley. “To feel her pain and know that she just wants the truth, she just wants to know, and is that so wrong?” Butler asked. “Is that so wrong?”
"If we’re gonna have a real, true justice system, we have to use the materials and procedures available to us, and dna is certainly one that can find the facts and the truth that we all should need and care about and search for,” Ray Krone said.