UPDATED 5:27 PM PT — Wednesday, November 6, 2019
A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers are urging Governor Greg Abbott to temporarily halt the execution of an inmate. Dozens of state lawmakers signed a letter this week to rally behind 51-year-old Rodney Reed, who is scheduled to die later this month. He was sent to death row for the 1998 rape and murder of girlfriend Stacey Stites, but has long maintained his innocence. Reed’s lawyers are citing mounting evidence, including DNA samples and witness testimonials, they claim would exonerate him.
“I feel that the truth is out there, that they do know, the state knows that I’m innocent, but whether they’re willing to acknowledge it…” — Rodney Reed, Texas inmate
A new witness has reportedly come forward and is claiming Stite’s fiancée, Jimmy Fenell, confessed to the crime while he was in prison for an unrelated rape conviction. Fennell was the original suspect of the crime, but police later turned to Reed after he matched DNA samples found on Stites. However, witnesses who knew Stites and Reed say they had a romantic relationship, which may explain why his DNA was found on her body.
The state lawmakers are the latest to join a large public outcry to spare Reed’s life. Influential people, including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and the entirety of the European Union, have made formal requests to halt the execution.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) November 4, 2019
Talk show host Dr. Phil has also weighed in on the case:
“I then got very involved in the file on this case and there are four independent medical experts that have come on-board, saying since this case was tried and since the appeals have taken place…that have scientific evidence that say there is no way it is possible that he committed this crime.”
Millions of people have signed a petition to urge Governor Abbott to suspend the execution for thirty days, while members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles make a decision on the case. Reed is scheduled to be executed on November 20th.