Millions Sign Petition to Keep Rodney Reed From Being Executed
Beyonce and Rihanna are among those calling for Reed's Nov. 20 execution to be halted in light of new evidence.
Calls for Rodney Reed's execution to be stayed are getting louder, as Nov. 20 approaches.
His brother, Rodrick Reed, is leading the charge.
“We want his name cleared from this. The opportunity to save his life,” Rodrick told CBS News.
Rodney has been on death row since 1998, convicted of murdering 19-year-old Stacey Stites in 1996. He is scheduled to be executed in ten days.
Rodney’s DNA was found on Stites, but he says they were having an affair and had consensual sex the day before her death. Stites’ cousin and former co-worker both say they knew about their romantic relationship.
On Apr. 23, 1996, Stites left for her 3:30 a.m. shift at a local grocery store, but never made it. Stites’ pickup truck was found abandoned in a high school parking lot. She was found on the side of a rural road, partially clothed.
CNN reports that Rodney became a suspect in Stites’ murder after he was arrested for allegedly kidnapping, beating, and attempting to rape and kill another woman around the same time, near the same route Stites took to work.
According to The Innocence Project, which represents Rodney, the murder weapon—a belt— was never tested for DNA evidence. Requests to test the belt have been repeatedly denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Forensic experts admitted to errors in their testimony, which led to Rodney’s conviction.
Rodney’s attorney with The Innocence Project, Bryce Benjet, tells CBS News that new evidence is giving Rodney hope.
“Three forensic pathologists have come forward and said that this is actually impossible that Rodney committed the crime," Benjet said.
Benjet says evidence points to Stites' former fiance, Jimmy Fennell.
In 2008, Fennell pleaded guilty to unrelated kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a person in custody while he was a police officer in Georgetown, Texas.
The ex-cop spent a decade in prison and was released in 2018.
On Oct. 29, 2019, Fennel's former prison mate and former member of the Aryan Brotherhood, Arthur Snow, said in a sworn affidavit that Fennell confessed to the murder, saying “I had to kill my n*****-loving fiancée.”
Fennell denies any involvement in Stites' death. His attorney, Bob Phillips, believes Rodney's conviction should stand.
"It'll be a stunning and horrific injustice if Rodney Reed is granted a new trial. Stacey Stites needs to be able to rest," Phillips told CBS News.
A petition at FreeRodneyReed.com has nearly met its goal of getting three million signatures.
Celebrities like Rihanna, Common and Kim Kardashian have all been pleading for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to step in and delay Rodney’s execution, while considering the new evidence.
Beyonce even turned her website's homepage into a personal letter to Gov. Abbott. The Texas native asks him to "be honest" and "be fair."
"All we're asking for is just our fair treatment, a fair trial," Rodrick told CBS News.
Bipartisan lawmakers are also urging Gov. Abbott to step up.
InsideEdition.com reached out to Gov. Abbott’s office and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for comment, but have not yet received a response.
The Supreme Court could chime in on the case this week.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports hundreds attended a rally for Rodney in front of Gov. Abbott’s mansion Saturday afternoon.
His mother had one request. “Show me and the world just how good of a man you are. Take into consideration all of what you know, all of what you’ve seen and the evidence. There are others that were before you that didn’t live up to their oath. Will you?” Sandra Reed asked.
“Will you stop this wrongful and painful execution of my son? If you don’t, then you are just as guilty of murder,” she said.
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