Tennessee executes second person in 45 years

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tennessee officials carried out the state’s second execution in 45 years by giving a lethal injection to a man convicted of raping and killing a jogger.

Sedley Alley, 50, was pronounced dead at 2:12 a.m. CDT Wednesday, about 10 minutes after the drugs started flowing.

Tennessee had scheduled back-to-back executions for Alley and convicted murderer Paul Dennis Reid, who received a stay earlier in the day. But the state has appealed that order, and asked Reid’s planned witnesses to return to the prison Wednesday at noon.

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Before Alley’s injection process started, the prison warden asked him if there was anything he wanted to say, and Alley replied, “Yes, to my children. April, David, can you hear me? I love you. Stay strong.”

Alley then thanked the prison chaplain and said, “I love you, David. I love you, April. Be good and stay together. Stay strong.”

“We will, Dad,” his daughter April McIntyre answered.

Both his children had their hands against the glass in the witness room and their arms around each other during the execution. Alley exhaled twice after the drugs started flowing, but had no other reaction.

Alley confessed to killing 19-year-old Marine Suzanne Collins in 1985 while she jogged near a Navy base north of Memphis.

Alley claimed at trial that he was not responsible for the murder because he had multiple personalities. But in 2004, he recanted his confession, argued he was innocent and said DNA testing could prove it.

After the execution, Collins’ parents had a statement read on their behalf by Verna Wyatt, a representative of You Have the Power, a victims’ rights organization.

“Rest in peace, Suzanne. Justice in your name has at last been realized.”

Suzanne Collins had dreams of becoming a fighter pilot and joined the Marines after graduating from high school in Virginia. She was killed one day before graduating to her next assignment.

“Our hearts and prayers are directed in special way toward the families of the more than 100 murder victims whose killers are currently lodged on Tennessee’s death row,” Trudy and Jack Collins said in the statement. “In our view, based on our own 19 years of a very painful experience, the capital punishment process in this state has been grievously abused.”

Alley was granted a last-minute stay by a federal judge just two hours before he was originally scheduled to be executed, but the stay was quickly lifted by a panel of two judges on the same court.

Alley’s requests for a stay had already been rejected Tuesday by Gov. Phil Bredesen and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state was planning back-to-back executions of Alley and Reid, who received seven death sentences for murdering seven people in a string restaurant robberies in 1997.

Reid was granted a stay by another federal judge so a hearing could be held to determine if he is mentally competent to abandon his appeals.

The state attorney general’s office appealed the order to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to meet Wednesday morning.

The last Tennessee inmate executed was a convicted child rapist and murderer put to death in 2000. Before that, the last execution was by electric chair in 1960.

After Alley’s execution, Tennessee now has 102 inmates on death row.