Alabama Executes Danny Bradley Without Providing Access to DNA Evidence That Could Have Exonerated Him


The State of Alabama executed Danny Bradley by lethal injection on Thursday, February 12, 2009, without allowing DNA testing that may have proved Mr. Bradley did not commit the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1983, at the time of his trial for the rape-murder of his stepdaughter, DNA testing was not available. Serological testing showed that Mr. Bradley could have been the source of some fluid samples collected from the crime scene but was not a good match for other samples.

The State relied primarily on the serological testing to convict and condemn Mr. Bradley to death. Two other men confessed to killing Mr. Bradley’s step-daughter, but their blood was never tested. Mr. Bradley maintained that DNA testing would prove he was not one of the men who committed the rape-murder.

In response to Danny Bradley’s request for DNA testing of the physical evidence, the State initially agreed to make the evidence available for testing, then claimed to have lost it. Mr. Bradley filed a lawsuit in federal court to require the State to provide the evidence for DNA testing.

In December 2008, while Mr. Bradley’s federal suit was pending on appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court complied with the Attorney General’s request to set an execution date. Mr. Bradley’s lawyers filed emergency motions in state and federal court to stay the execution date. The motions were denied.

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on March 2, 2009, in an Alaska case addressing whether prisoners have a constitutional right to obtain DNA evidence that might help them prove their innocence.

The lethal injection of Danny Bradley was Alabama’s second execution in as many months.