Rodney Reed gets indefinite stay of execution

State

On Friday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Rodney Reed an indefinite stay of execution, according to The Innocence Project.

Earlier on Friday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend to Gov. Greg Abbott a 120-day delay on the execution of 47-year-old Rodney Reed, the Bastrop man convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites.

Abbott will still be able to approve or reject the recommendation for the execution, which was scheduled for Wednesday. He will also, however, have the option to direct another action regarding the execution.

The 51-year-old Reed received the death penalty for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.

Reed’s efforts to stop his execution have received support from such celebrities as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah, Lawmakers from both parties, including Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, have also asked that officials take a closer look at the evidence in the case.

Since Texas resumed executions in 1982, only three death row inmates have had their sentences commuted to life in prison within days of their scheduled executions.

The parole board since 1982 has recommended commuting a death row inmate’s sentence five times. But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected the recommendation twice, in 2004 and 2009.

Since taking office in 2015, Abbott has halted only one imminent execution, which occurred in 2018.

Reed also still has several appeals pending, including with the U.S. Supreme Court. His supporters have held various rallies leading up to his execution, including an overnight vigil on Thursday in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. A rally in front of the Texas governor’s mansion is set for Sunday.

Prosecutors say Reed raped and strangled Stites as she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed has long maintained he didn’t kill Stites and that her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, was the real killer. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black.

Fennell’s attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites. Fennell was paroled last year after serving time in prison for sexual assault.

Prosecutors say Reed’s semen was found in the victim, his claims of an affair with Stites were not proven at trial, Fennell was cleared as a suspect and Reed had a history of committing other sexual assaults.

Reed’s lawyers say his conviction was based on flawed evidence. They have denied the other sexual assault accusations made by prosecutors.

In recent weeks, Reed’s attorneys have presented affidavits in support of his claims of innocence, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur. Reed’s lawyers say other recent affidavits corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed and show that Fennell was violent and aggressive toward Stites.

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