INNOCENCE PROJECT: RODNEY REED GIVEN STAY OF EXECUTION BY TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

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[Mass Incarceration News\Rodney Reed]
Bryce Benjet, Mr. Reed’s Innocence Project attorney: "We are thankful that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles have unanimously voted for a 120-day reprieve (before an indefinite stay was granted) of Mr. Reed’s execution. This time is critical to allow for proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence and possible DNA testing that could help prove who actually committed the crime. We hope that Governor Abbott will consider all of the facts in this case, and adopt the Board’s recommendation as soon as possible."
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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Rodney Reed an indefinite stay of execution on Friday, just five days before he was scheduled to be executed. The decision means Rodney no longer has an execution date — but he’s still on death row.

The following statement can be attributed to Bryce Benjet, Mr. Reed’s Innocence Project attorney--hours before the indefinite stay was was granted:

"We are thankful that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles have unanimously voted for a 120-day reprieve of Mr. Reed’s execution. This time is critical to allow for proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence and possible DNA testing that could help prove who actually committed the crime. We hope that Governor Abbott will consider all of the facts in this case, and adopt the Board’s recommendation as soon as possible."

In the coming months, new witnesses will testify on Rodney’s behalf during a week-long hearing and new, mounting evidence that points to his innocence will be presented. Judges will then determine whether or not Rodney will get a new trial.

Mr. Reed has been on death row since 1998 after he was convicted for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas. Since his trial, there is substantial evidence that exonerates Reed and implicates Stites’ then-fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a former local police officer.

Officer Jimmy Fennell, was quoted, by Arthur Snow, (an inmate in the prison where Fennell is incarcerated) as allegedly saying that he killed his "nigger loving fiancée,” because she was having a consentual interracial relationship with Rodney Reed. Officer Fennell plead guilty to kidnapping and sex charges after he was indicted for abducting and raping a different woman who he encountered while on-duty as a Georgetown police officer.

There is much evidence indicating Stiles was likely killed by Fennell--because of the interracial affair, she was having with Reed. Bastrop Sheriff’s Officer Charles Wayne Fletcher, a colleague and friend of Fennell at the time of Stites’ murder, establishes motives of both racial animus and revenge for Fennell against Stites. Fletcher described a deteriorating relationship between Fennell and Stites in March 1996 and recalls that Fennell made a disturbing and bigoted statement that Stites was having an affair: “… I remember clearly that Jimmy said that he believed Stacey was ‘f***ing a n*****’.”

Fletcher also noted that Fennell had an “odd, emotionless behavior” at Stites’ funeral and burial services. “I was so disturbed by his behavior that it caused me to question whether he was involved in Stacey’s death,” Fletcher’s affidavit states. “I also chose to have no further interaction or communication with him.”

Fennell's motive of revenge and racism has also been alleged by Jim Clampit, a deputy in the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murder, to whom Fennell made an alarming and inculpatory statement at Stites’ funeral regarding Stites’ body. An insurance salesperson also stated that Fennell threatened to kill Stites while applying for life insurance. Reportedly, both gave affidavits to these allegations implicating Fennell.

Written by the Innocence Project Staff. For more information on the Innocence Project logon to: www.innocenceproject.org

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