Inmate Sedley Alley, convicted of the 1985 murder of 19-year-old Suzanne Collins, is awaiting word from the state about whether or not his execution will take place Wednesday. The debate over his case in general and specific, as well as arguments from the tcask blog, are flying fast - you can view some of the state's blogosphere discussion via Nashville Is Talking.
The state Board of Probation and Parole has urged the governor to allow for a reprieve until some new DNA evidence is reviewed, a break for Ally and his decades-long appeals. The crime is plainly horrifying - the young girl was abducted, beaten, raped and impaled on a stick that had also been used to rape her. I can't imagine the grief and pain of her family and friends.
Also disgusting to me is use of the issue in the political world - but since this is a government-sanctioned process, politics rolls into the mix. Shame on those who use this tragedy to paint a political picture.
I've had friends whose parent died violently and the criminal convicted was not executed. I often saw and heard the rage and sorrow the event left behind. I know that nothing could have changed the emotional turmoil of that family. They were hurt in a way that couldn't be repaired. It was awful to see the damage done.
The endless appeals are in place for a reason - protection of a possibly innocent person. If guilt is clear and obvious 9 times out of 10, does that mean we, as a state and a people, sanction the death of that one innocent person?
I've yet to be shown in any way that the death penalty deters murder. And I know that just as a murderer can steal a life, a government - any government - can also make errors and take innocent lives too. Which means I'm opposed to the death penalty.
But we all should consider this issue since we, as a state, condone the death penalty. And the comments mentioned above merit much debate and reflection.
UPDATE: via The Tennessean ---Just eight hours before his appointed execution time, Sedley Alley was granted a reprieve by Gov. Phil Bredesen. The 15-day postponement would allow time for Alley to press his case in state court to get DNA testing done that could clear him.
Bredesen said in a statement issued shortly after 5 p.m. today that he believes Alley is guilty and issued the reprieve "reluctantly."
Alley’s attorneys said they are disappointed in the turn of events. They had hoped the governor would follow the parole board’s recommendation to order DNA testing be done.
The extra days, however, will permit Alley to pursue his petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court, said Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender representing Alley.