Friday, February 20, 2015

Rodney Reed: Texas: Three forensic experts cite major discrepancies in the official timeline of the murder of Stacey Stites which they say warrant a retrial; Reed is scheduled to be executed on March 5. The Austin Chronicle.

STORY: "Reed seeks retrial: Forensic experts contest official murder timeline,"  by reporter Chase Hoffberger, published on Friday February 20, 2015.

GIST: "The effort to bring justice to death row inmate Rodney Reed continues. Attorneys filed a brief in Bastrop County Court last Thursday, Feb. 12 that argues that the official timeline of the murder of Stacey Stites is inaccurate, and that the discrepancy should be enough to warrant a retrial. The filing comes on the heels of affidavits from forensic pathologists Dr. LeRoy Rid­dick (who has now written four opinions on the murder since 2003), former Chief Med­ical Examiner of the City of New York Dr. Michael Baden, and Dr. Werner Spitz, whose textbook Medicolegal Investigation of Death is recognized as "the bible of forensic pathology." All three find four inconsistencies: • The standard pattern of rigor mortis (the stiffening of the body after death) reflects that Stites died well before 3:30am on April 23, 1996; • The lividity (red discoloration due to pooling of blood after death) found on Stites's face, shoulder, and arm indicates that she was dead and in a different position from that in which she was found for at least four to five hours (enough time for the blood in those areas to pool); • The three intact spermatozoa found on CSI autopsy smears taken that afternoon were not sufficient to prove Stites had been sexually assaulted between 3 and 5am;   Former Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo's determination that Stites was anally raped yields no conclusive evidence. Baden's affidavit adds additional insight into the fluid found in the truck believed to be used to dump the victim's body..........The implications of Slater and Ybarra's testimonies pale in comparison to those offered by Rid­dick, Baden, and Spitz, however. Accord­ing to their reviews of autopsy reports and photos, crime scene photos and video, and other assorted reports on the site alongside County Road 1441 where Stites's body was found, the three independently concluded that enough inconsistencies exist to debunk the belief that Stites died the morning of April 23. Instead, as Spitz specifies: "all findings point to a post-mortem interval of about 20-24 hours prior to the time the body was filmed" (shortly after 5pm). Acceptance of Riddick and Spitz's opinions would refute the story told by Fennell, who testified during trial that he and Stites retired to their apartment at roughly 8:30pm on April 22 and that the two were asleep until Stites left for work at 3am. Rather, Benjet says, their findings would support the theory that Stites "was killed at home" and "left in a position in some other location other than the dump site for four to six hours."" Benjet filed this new appeal in Bastrop Dis­trict Court, though the case will be immediately forwarded to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which will determine if a hearing is warranted. The appeal comes on the same day that Reed's attorneys submit an appeal for clemency. Rodney Reed is currently scheduled to be executed on March 5."

 The entire story can be found at:


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