Death row inmate Rodney Reed has been in a Texas prison for over two decades after being wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of Stacey Stites. Unless his team of lawyers can convince Texas Governor Greg Abbott to grant him a stay of execution based on exculpatory evidence that has recently come to light, Reed is set to be executed by lethal injection on November 20th.
Fifty-two-year-old Reed has been unequivocally proclaiming his innocence since day one, something that caught the attention of a team of lawyers from the Innocence Project. They’ve been steadily working to free him before he is executed for a crime that he didn’t commit. “Mr. Reed’s execution is less than one month away, meaning Texas is frighteningly close to executing an innocent man,” said Bryce Benjet, Reed’s lead counsel, in . Over the past several years, the prosecution’s case against Reed has been dismantled bit by bit, most recently by a confession from the man who is likely the real killer — former police officer Jimmy Fennell, who was Stites’s fiancé at the time that she and Reed were carrying on a consensual sexual relationship. Fennell himself served time in prison for the kidnapping and rape of another woman, and in fact, was initially a suspect in Stites’s murder.
On Wednesday, after Reed filed for clemency, ’m innocent,” he said. But he had been naive about how being a black man on trial would dictate the course of the trial.“Race played a big part. I didn’t see it at first. … I wasn’t seeing racism like that.”aired an interview between him and Deborah Roberts. He told Roberts about how he had assumed that the evidence, plus his upbringing as a military brat, would be enough to convince the jury that he was an upstanding citizen, not a murderer. “I figured that they would hear the evidence and know that I
Race, though, was a big part of how he became embroiled Stites’s murder case. New evidence reveals that Fennell, who is white, bragged to a fellow inmate Arthur Snow — the two of them were part of the Aryan Brotherhood — that he had killed his fiancée, offensively describing the consensual, interracial relationship between Reed and Stites.“Jimmy said his fiancé had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back. By the way, Jimmy spoke about this experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him,” said Snow in the sworn affidavit. Sworn testimony from former colleagues in the police force also reinforced the fact that Fennell had been furious, using racist language in the past to express his suspicions that his fiancée was carrying on a relationship with Reed.“I was so disturbed by his behavior that it caused me to question whether he was involved in Stacey’s death,” said one colleague.
This is what @GovAbbott is busy doing while he ignores our pleas for justice. There are 23 days and 13 hours left until the wrongful execution of Rodney Reed in Texas. Please take action today and help #FreeRodneyReed https://t.co/iWRgK53Zrp
— Rodney Reed (@FreeRodneyReed) October 28, 2019
Several high profile members of the public have caught wind of the case and are using their platforms to get the rest of the public involved in the campaign to free Reed. Kim Kardashian Westto Gov. Abbott in mid-October, “PLEASE @GovAbbott How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING.” Reed’s case was also prominently featured on an episode of last month, where he was able to tell his story through a jailhouse interview.
Reed last was granted a stay of execution in 2015 after his lawyers successfully appealed his casebefore he was to be executed. The stay was granted based on a reassessment of forensic evidence that made the prosecution’s version of events “medically and scientifically impossible.” At the time, Reed’s team was also pushing for DNA testing on the murder weapon — a belt — that they believed would exonerate him from the crime, a request that has been denied to this day.
You can stand with Rodney Reed by sharing his story far and wide on social media, and especially if you’re a Texas resident, calling your Governor and representatives toand refuse to let an innocent man be executed later this month.