Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Texas appeals court blocks inmate Rodney Reed’s execution

The 51-year-old had been set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop,  Reed is facing lethal injection for a murder he says he didn't commit. The execution was called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. [RICARDO BRAZZIELL  |  AP]
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop, Reed is facing lethal injection for a murder he says he didn't commit. The execution was called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. [RICARDO BRAZZIELL | AP]
Published Nov. 15

HOUSTON— Texas’ top appeals court on Friday halted the scheduled execution of inmate Rodney Reed, whose conviction is being questioned by new evidence that his supporters say raises serious doubt about his guilt.

The stay of execution issued Friday afternoon by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals came just hours after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended delaying the lethal injection.

The parole board unanimously recommended a 120-day reprieve for Reed. The board rejected Reed’s request to commute his sentence to life in prison.

The 51-year-old Reed had been set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. Prosecutors say Reed raped and strangled Stites as she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed's efforts to stop his execution have received support from such celebrities as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah. Lawmakers from both parties, including Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, have also asked that officials take a closer look at the evidence in the case.

The board’s decision was to go next to Gov. Greg Abbott, who hadn’t said whether he would accept or reject it or do nothing. The stay likely makes Abbott’s decision moot until Reed’s appeals are exhausted.

Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Innocence Project, which is representing Reed, had sought to delay the execution to properly consider “powerful new evidence of his innocence” and for possibly allowing DNA testing that could prove “who actually committed the crime.”

Since Texas resumed executions in 1982, only three death row inmates have had their sentences commuted to life in prison within days of their scheduled executions.

The parole board since 1982 has recommended commuting a death row inmate’s sentence five times. But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected the recommendation twice, in 2004 and 2009.

Since taking office in 2015, Abbott has halted only one imminent execution, which occurred in 2018.

Reed still has several appeals pending, including with the U.S. Supreme Court. His supporters have held various rallies leading up to his execution, including an overnight vigil on Thursday in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. A rally in front of the Texas governor’s mansion is set for Sunday.

Reed has long maintained he didn't kill Stites and that her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, was the real killer. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black.

Fennell's attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites. Fennell was paroled last year after serving time in prison for sexual assault.

Prosecutors say Reed's semen was found in the victim, his claims of an affair with Stites were not proven at trial, Fennell was cleared as a suspect and Reed had a history of committing other sexual assaults.

Reed's lawyers say his conviction was based on flawed evidence. They have denied the other sexual assault accusations made by prosecutors.

In recent weeks, Reed’s attorneys have presented affidavits in support of his claims of innocence, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur. Reed’s lawyers say other recent affidavits corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed and show that Fennell was violent and aggressive toward Stites.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Actor Danny Aiello is photographed in New York,  Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) [RICHARD DREW  |  ASSOCIATED PRESS]
    He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a pizza man in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”
  2. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.,left, speaks with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., right, during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP]
    The charges now go to the full House for an expected vote next week.
  3. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., left, questions investigators during a presentation of the findings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) [J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP]
    Approval of the two charges against the president would send the matter to the full House for a vote expected next week.
  4. FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. The Federal Communications Commission is setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline. Once it's implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help, similar to calling 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File) [JENNY KANE  |  AP]
    Once it’s implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help.
  5. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, center top, speaking during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (Matt McClain/Pool via AP) [MATT MCCLAIN  |  AP]
    Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident Democrats will have the votes to impeach the president next week but said it is up to individual lawmakers to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves.
  6. This Sept. 12, 2019 file photo shows a University of Tennessee shirt in Knoxville, Tenn., using the design of a Florida fourth-grader who was bullied.  Sales of the T-shirt have raised over $950,000 for an anti-bullying organization. Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the three months since it was created. (AP Photo/Steve Megargee, File) [STEVE MEGARGEE  |  AP]
    Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the past three months.
  7. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses plenary of U.N. climate conference during with a meeting with leading climate scientists at the COP25 summit in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday. Thunberg is in Madrid where a global U.N.-sponsored climate change conference is taking place. (AP Photo/Paul White) [PAUL WHITE  |  AP]
    It’s not the first time the President has lashed out after not being recognized for his influence.
  8. Harvey Weinstein leaves court following a hearing, Wednesday in New York. Weinstein’s bail was increased from $1 million to $5 million on Wednesday over allegations he violated bail conditions by mishandling his electronic ankle monitor. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    The settlement ends nearly every sexual misconduct lawsuit brought against Weinstein and his former film studio’s board.
  9. Orthodox Jewish men gather outside a Brooklyn synagogue prior to a funeral for Mosche Deutsch, Wednesday in New York. Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn, was killed Tuesday in the shooting inside a Jersey City, N.J. market. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop called the bloodshed a hate crime against Jews, as did New York’s mayor and governor.
  10. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, rubs his face during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Wednesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) [JACQUELYN MARTIN  |  AP]
    Democrats and Republicans delivered sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and against impeachment.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement