A VC reader wonders why I wrote below that Sedley Alley "allegedly" raped and murdered Suzanne Collins when Alley was long-ago convicted of the crime and his conviction withstood numerous appeals and petitions for post-conviction relief.
At what point does one stop saying allegedly? He’s been convicted, right? Plus he confessed (although he later recanted). Does the fact that he claims the conviction is unjust entitle him to an “allegedly” in front of the crime or does the conviction plus review through SCOTUS mean his crime is now no longer alleged?This is a good question, it was something I pondered when drafting the post, and I am not sure I have a solid answer. Given that I wanted the post to be neutral on the subject matter, and because he was making an “actual innocence” claim (however improbable), I figured there was no harm in putting it in. Yet, as the reader notes, saying the crimes are only "alleged" after conviction and appeal seems to imply that the court system is not fair.
In this particular case, Alley's claims of actual innocence are quite incredible, coming two decades after his confessions and conviction. It is true that the state opposed Alley's belated effort to seek DNA testing of available evidence, but even "negative" DNA tests on the available physical evidence would have been inconclusive and the case against Alley was quite strong. [Had the facts been otherwise, Alley would have likely succeeded in his efforts to obtain post-conviction testing in state courts.] Note that I strongly support post-conviction testing of DNA evidence when such testing was not available at the time of trial. In this case, however, I do not believe the effort to obtain such tests was based upon a plausible claim of actual innocence.