Crime In new filing, Rodney Reed says more evidence points to innocence
Free Rodney Reed: 100,000 Sign Petition to Stop Execution of Death Row Inmate in Texas
Inmate who has always maintained innocence due to be put to death on November 20. According to the Innocence Project, Texas is on the "verge of executing an innocent man," citing a number of contradicting confessions and evidence which implicates Stites's fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, a local police officer who was originally the prime suspect in her murder.The project, along with Reed's attorneys, filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on October 30 in the wake of a new affidavit sworn by Arthur Snow.
Lawyers for death row inmate Rodney Reed have once again asked the state's highest criminal court to void his conviction and death sentence, arguing that "even more new evidence" has been discovered that points to Reed's innocence.
Filed with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday, the petition lists eight new witnesses who have provided testimony that the court has not yet seen — including four people who provided sworn affidavits just days ago.
Texas Death Row Inmate Gains Support As Execution Looms
Rodney Reed, 51, has garnered many supporters believing his claims of innocence in rape and killing, but his execution date draws near.According to multiple news reports, Rodney Reed has garnered support from the likes of "Dr. Phil" McGraw and Kim Kardashian West as part of a growing number of people urging Gov. Greg Abbott to show clemency toward the inmate. Last Friday, the European Union weighed in as well, urging clemency for Reed on the basis that evidence "casts substantial doubt as to his culpability." Some 130,000 additional supporters have urged mercy in a Change.org petition calling for the halt to the planned execution.
The new witnesses support Reed's claim that he was having an affair with murder victim Stacey Stites, explaining the presence of his semen in her body, or support defense claims that Stites was likely killed by her fiance, Jimmy Fennell, the petition argues.
Reed is scheduled to be executed Nov. 20. Defense lawyers say the witnesses came forward or were tracked down during an intense reinvestigation of Reed's case after the Bastrop man's execution date was set in July.
"Several other new witnesses have also come forward implicating Mr. Fennell in Ms. Stites's death and are being actively investigated by Mr. Reed's defense," the petition said.
Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed: The outcry from people seeking to stop Rodney Reed's execution is growing. The support has 'bolstered him,' his attorney says
The outcry is growing from an army of supporters, including celebrities, clergy and state lawmakers, trying to stop the execution of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, who is set to die in less than two weeks. © Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman/AP Texas Death row inmate Rodney Reed is back in Bastrop County District Court Tuesday October 10, 2017 asking Judge Doug Shaver to reconsider testimony from his trial. Reed's execution is scheduled for November 20. More than 20 years ago, he was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, southeast of Austin.
The Court of Criminal Appeals has consistently denied Reed's claims of innocence, most recently in late June when the court rejected analyses from forensic experts who said Stites had been killed hours before she could have encountered Reed before her shift was to start at a Bastrop H-E-B at 3:30 a.m. on April 23, 1996.
The four most recent witnesses to provide sworn statements on Reed's behalf included Rebecca Peoples, who said she and Stites would talk while they worked together at the H-E-B.
"A number of times she spoke about the fact that she was engaged to be married, but she said she was afraid of her fiance," Peoples said in her affidavit, dated Sunday.
"Stacey also mentioned that she was having an affair with a black man. She never told me who he was or mentioned his name," People said, adding that she had not come forward with the information previously "because I did not realize that it was important and no one ever approached me."
Hundreds rally at Texas Governor's Mansion in support of death row inmate Rodney Reed
AUSTIN, Texas - Hundreds rallied Saturday afternoon in front of the Texas Governor's Mansion in Austin, hoping their pleas for death row inmate Rodney Reed's execution to be stayed would reach the ears of the man who has the power to do so: Gov. Greg Abbott. Standing just feet from Abbott's residence, Rodney Reed's mother, Sandra Reed, had a message for him. "It is time for change.Standing just feet from Abbott’s residence, Rodney Reed’s mother, Sandra Reed, had a message for him.
In addition, Richard Derleth, a former Bastrop County sheriff's deputy, said H-E-B workers told him in 1996 that they would warn Stites if Fennell arrived at the store, allowing her to hide because she feared Fennell would start a loud argument in public.
In sworn declarations also signed Sunday, Brent and Vicki Sappington said Brent's late father, William Sappington, lived directly below the Giddings apartment shared by Stites and Fennell. The man they both called Daddy recounted numerous occasions when he overheard "a man named Jimmy" yelling loudly at Stacey, often accompanied by loud thumps from above, they said.
"Daddy told us that he was very concerned about the way Jimmy treated Stacey," Vicki Sappington said. "He said it was always Jimmy's voice that he heard and that Jimmy's language was abusive, aggressive and angry towards Stacey. ... Based on the loud noises and thumping, Daddy told us he believed Jimmy was also physically abusive to Stacey."
Defense lawyers argued that the new perspectives bolstered affidavits, previously reported by not yet provided to the appeals court, claiming that Fennell told a fellow law officer that he believed Stites was having sex with a black man behind his back, that Fennell bragged about killing his fianc' because she had been sleeping with a black man, and that Fennell — while standing over Stites' body at her funeral — said she got what she deserved.
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Court puts hold on Rodney Reed's scheduled execution .
With new, compelling evidence in Reed's case, the call to halt his Nov. 20 execution has been building in recent weeks.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Friday afternoon stopped the scheduled execution of death row inmate and convicted murderer Rodney Reed.
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