Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rodney Reed: Momentous development; The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted him a stay of execution. No reasons given. "Prosecutors persuaded the jury that Reed had raped and strangled Stites in the early hours of the morning after intercepting her on her way to work, but the timeline for that version of events relied on scientific evidence at the trial that has since been discredited. Reed has been on death row for nearly 17 years." The Guardian.

STORY: "Rodney Reed: Texas appeals court grants stay of execution (set for March 5) ," by reporter Tom Dart, published by the Guardian on February 24, 2015.

SUB-HEADING: "Defence lawyers tell judges that new evidence proves Reed did not murder Stacey Stites in 1996 case and trial testimony was false."

GIST: "A Texas court has issued a stay of execution for Rodney Reed 10 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit. In a 6-2 verdict on Monday that was a response to an appeal filed by Reed’s lawyers, the Texas court of criminal appeals stayed the lethal injection that had been set down for 5 March. The court did not explain its decision. Reed’s attorneys argued they had new evidence proving his innocence and showing that the prosecution in the original trial presented false and misleading testimony. They are also calling for more DNA testing.........  Stacey Stites’s body was discovered by a rural roadside in Bastrop, near Austin, in 1996. The 19-year-old had been engaged to a police officer, Jimmy Fennell, who is currently in prison for kidnap and sexual assault. He was initially a suspect but investigators turned their focus to Reed after his DNA was discovered inside Stites’s body. Reed’s defence was that he was having an affair with Stites that they kept secret because it had the potential to cause a scandal in smalltown Texas since Reed is black and Stites was white. Prosecutors persuaded the jury that Reed had raped and strangled Stites in the early hours of the morning after intercepting her on her way to work, but the timeline for that version of events relied on scientific evidence at the trial that has since been discredited. Reed has been on death row for nearly 17 years. “We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence. We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime,” said Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project. In their 12 February filing Reed’s lawyers argued that Stites was killed several hours earlier than the prosecution claimed – placing the time of death during a period when she was almost certainly at home with Fennell. “Three of the most experienced and well-regarded forensic pathologists in the country … have re-evaluated the case and determined that Mr Reed’s guilt is medically and scientifically impossible,” they wrote."

The entire story ca be found at:


See related Gamso for for the Defence post: (Must Read); "Rodney Reed, almost certainly did not rape and murder Stacey Stites that April day in 1996, just three weeks before her wedding to Jimmy Lewis Fennell, Jr.   As a factoid, that's not particularly interesting either way you look at it.  After all, there are billions of people who certainly did not rape and murder her, and there are billions of people Rodney Reed certainly did not rape and murder.  But factoids arise in context, and the context is that Reed is on death row for killing Stites.  And Texas has been planning to kill him, in return, next week. Which, as I say, he almost certainly did not do. But this was Bastrop, Tx., not the most racially enlightened of places, they say.  And he was black; she was white; they were having an affair.  Oh, and Jimmy Fennell, Jr. was a cop. Fennell was with Stites, he said, late that night.  But early in the morning - well, that's when they say she was abducted, driven away, and killed.  And that sperm with Reed's DNA, that had to have been deposited in her that morning, the forensic guys said. Until, of course, it was later.  And some folks who actually knew what they were doing looked at the evidence.  Forensic pathologists said NO!  It's not possible she was killed where they say.  Lividity proves she was killed elsewhere and the body then moved. NO! It's not possible she was killed as late as they say.  She was killed hours earlier, the night before.  At the time she was, Fennell said, with Fennell. NO! It's not true that the sperm with Reed's DNA had to have been deposited that morning.  The science doesn't support that view.  You just can't tell.Hell, that last one is from the forensic guy who testified otherwise.  I was wrong, he now says.  Oh, and though propensity evidence is of questionable legal value, Fennell is, these days, no longer a cop.  He's doing 20 years for kidnapping and raping another young woman." 



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