The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the execution of death row inmate Rodney Reed in response to a motion filed by his lawyers, including Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project, earlier this month. According to the motion, three respected forensic pathologists have reviewed evidence in connection with the case and concluded that the victim, Stacey Stites, was murdered much earlier than the prosecution claimed at trial, that she was killed in a different location and that her body was taken to the location where it was found. The motion also includes affidavits from two of Stites’ former co-workers who corroborate Reed’s claims that he was having a clandestine romantic relationship with Stites.
Reed, who is black, maintains that they kept the relationship private because it was an interracial relationship in a small Texas community and because Stites was engaged to Jimmy Fennell, a former police officer with the Georgetown police department. These new facts provide strong new evidence supporting the defense theory that Stites was murdered by Fennell who is now in prison for the sexual assault of a woman while on the job.
The stay will give the court time to consider the new evidence presented in the motion. The stay will also provide Reed’s lawyers additional time to pursue their motion for additional DNA testing in the case, which they believe will further support his innocence claim or even prove that someone else actually committed the crime.
Download the stay order from the court here.