Execution date is pushed back indefinitely for Rodney Reed

Tysha Burrell, Editor

Twenty-four years ago, Rodney Reed was sentenced to death and sent to Texas’ death row for a crime that he may not have committed. Over the years, the case has been opened and shut countless times, but it wasn’t until recently that social media has shown widespread support for him.

While the prosecution had little to no evidence, the jury felt that Reed was guilty of the rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. The only piece of evidence that connected the two was Reed’s DNA on Stites. However, they were indulging in an affair, behind the back of Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fenell. 

In July, Harris County District Judge Doug Shaver signed execution order with the expected date to be on Nov. 20, 2019.

Since then, an overwelming amount of evidence that shows the murder weapon has not yet been tested for DNA evidence, so it is unclear if he made contact with it. Forensic experts that were involved in the case admitted that there were errors in their testimony that were used to convict Reed.  Forensic pathologists including Michael Baden, M.D., Werner Spitz, M.D., LeRoy Riddick, M.D. and Cyril Wecht, M.D. have all concluded that Reed’s guilt is “medically and scientifically impossible.” They have also concluded that the time of death that was submitted to court is inaccurate. 

Reed’s lawyers feel that all the evidence points to her previous fiancé. Under oath, former prison mate, Arthur Snow, told authorities that Fennell confessed to murdering her. The convited kiddnapper and sex offender has strong, negitive feeling about Stites being with a black man. 

The victim’s cousin, Heather Stobbs, spoke out and said that she deserves a chance to clear his name. 

“If we’re seeking justice for Stacey, we have to make sure there’s absolutely no doubt that the person who’s been sentenced for this and being held responsible is the right person,” said Stobbs.

The Innocence Project played a big part of the process. They helped get his story to the public by informing the public of Reed’s case. Many celebrities, such as Beyoncé and Rihanna have supported him because of the project.

They set up a petition and as of Nov. 15, they have had over 57,000 signatures. Other petitions have reached almost three million signatures. Because of the attention this case was getting, people expected Governor Greg Abbott to terminate the execution completely, but he has yet to speak out.

Countless times, Reed’s defence team has tried to get the Texas Appeal Court to appeal the execution order. It wasn’t until Nov. 15, 2019, five days before the execution, The Texas Appeals Court chose to suspend his execution indefinitely.

“We’re happy that we’re going to have an opportunity to present the compelling evidence that Rodney Reed didn’t commit the crime,” Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project said.

It is not known if the execution is going to take place, but no matter what, Reed’s defense team has been given the opportunity to show new evidence to the court so that they can prove his innocence.