Published: Sat, November 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Rodney Reed's lawyers file to overturn conviction

Rodney Reed's lawyers file to overturn conviction

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday halted the execution of Rodney Reed, who was convicted of killing his 19-year-old lover in 1996, as recent calls for his exoneration and a fresh look at his case got more intense.

We're told she wanted the chance to speak with him in person, hear his story and hash out a last-ditch effort to save his life.

Reed's lawyers submitted an application for clemency to the parole board last month arguing that new witnesses have come forward that implicate Stites' fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, who would later serve time in an unrelated on-duty kidnapping.

But prosecutors say semen of Reed, who had a history of committing other sexual assaults, was found in the victim and his claims of an affair with Stites were not proven at trial.

Kardashian West was just one of the many celebrity voices to stand up for Reed after his attorneys with the Innocence Project said they have new eyewitness evidence to be presented that would help prove his innocence.

Reed's execution has gained an enormous amount of attention - with dozens of state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, A-list celebrities and millions of people signed onto online petitions calling for a stop to his death amid doubts of his guilt. Reed was later found guilty by an all-white jury, after DNA on Stites was identified as his a year after her murder, TIME reported.

Fennell, through his lawyer Bob Phillips, has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the claims of the new witnesses, asking why they would wait to come forward. Experts that were called in in 1998 when he was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites have also recanted their testimony.

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The Texas Board of Criminal Appeals has STAYED Reed's execution indefinitely, meaning - he has no execution date. They said this would cause Stites to "run and hide from Jimmy".

Bastrop County prosecutors could not be reached for comment Friday.

Stites' body was found partially unclothed in Bastrop County hours after she didn't show up to her grocery store job, according to court records.

Rodney Reed waves to his family in this 2017 photo.

The petition for clemency asked the board to recommend the 120-day reprieve or to recommend that Abbott commute Reed's sentence to life in prison. A rally in front of the Texas governor's mansion is set for Sunday. The stay likely makes Abbott's decision moot until Reed's appeals are exhausted.

Reed's lawyers say other recent affidavits also corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed. But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected the recommendation twice, in 2004 and 2009.

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