December 2, 2021


Beyond law

New evidence exhibits Rodney Reed innocent of 1996 murder, legal professionals say

Legal professionals for Rodney Reed, a Black man who maintains he was wrongfully convicted in the 1996 murder of a White girl, are making an attempt to establish his innocence in a Texas court Monday. Reed had been sentenced to die in the murder of 19-yr-aged Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, but the state’s greatest courtroom issued a continue to be days right before his scheduled execution in November of 2019. 

Rodney Reed et al. smiling for the camera: Rodney-Reed.jpg

© Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP

Rodney Reed et al. taking a selfie: Stacey Stites, left, and Rodney Reed, right / Credit: CBS Austin

© Presented by CBS News
Stacey Stites, left, and Rodney Reed, ideal / Credit: CBS Austin

As his execution date loomed, the circumstance received an intense nationwide spotlight. Virtually 3 million men and women signing a petition urging clemency and large-profile figures such as Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Beyonce, Meek Mill and Oprah voiced support for Reed. The Courtroom of Legal Appeals remanded the scenario back again to the demo court docket to hash out 3 concerns — regardless of whether the point out hid evidence that could have cleared Reed, irrespective of whether the point out presented false testimony, and irrespective of whether Reed is harmless of the crime. 

Rodney Reed’s mom reacts to her son’s stay of execution


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At a courtroom listening to that started Monday, Reed’s defense is expected to introduce proof and testimony over the course of four to 5 days in an hard work to demonstrate that Reed warrants a new trial. Reed has reported he was owning an affair with Stites and experienced consensual intercourse with her the working day right before her demise, but he has extensive denied killing her. His protection crew details to proof they say implicates Stites’ fiance, a previous law enforcement officer who afterwards served time in an unrelated kidnapping, in her murder.


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Throughout an opening statement in courtroom Monday, Reed’s attorney Andrew MacRae identified as the situation against Reed “flimsy,” reviews CBS Austin reporter Bettie Cross. Prosecutors claimed Stites invested an evening at household with her fiance Jimmy Fennell just before she still left and drove to get the job done, and during the drive, they said Reed intercepted her, raped and strangled her and left her body in a distant region. They cited Reed’s sperm observed inside of Stites’ physique as proof of Reed’s guilt. 

Reed’s protection group says the compact quantity of sperm located inside of Stites’ body in fact supports Reed’s assert that the two had consensual intercourse the working day before she died, although prosecutors at his 1998 demo claimed it confirmed Reed sexually assaulted Stites just in advance of murdering her. 

“With regard to phony evidence, there’s a mountain of it,” MacRae said Monday.

Reed’s defense is also expected to introduce forensic proof displaying the point out of Stites’ entire body indicated she was killed hours just before prosecutors alleged, at a time when she would have been at dwelling with Fennell. Taking the stand as the to start with witness for Reed’s defense, forensic pathologist Andrew Baker called the window of time through which prosecutors say Stites was murdered — between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on April 23, 1996 — “unjustifiably slender,” Cross reviews.

Immediately after Reed’s conviction, witnesses have come ahead who say Fennell understood about the affair and designed incriminating statements immediately after the murder. On Monday, MacRae described the connection among Stites and Fennell as abusive and controlling. Fennell has denied any involvement.

MacRae also said the condition failed to disclose not long ago-surfaced witness statements that supported Reed’s assertion that he and Stites were being included in a consensual sexual partnership. But in an opening assertion for the prosecution, Lisa Tanner, an assistant Texas legal professional standard, reported there is no evidence of a “top secret affair,” Cross claimed. Tanner mentioned Reed’s lawyers have had four distinct versions of what transpired the night time of Stites’ murder, and mentioned prosecutors are defending Stites’ honor in opposition to their newest principle.

“Our evidence is not new and not nearly anything we haven’t been stating for 25 a long time,” Tanner said.

Reed’s supporters gathered outside the courthouse for an right away vigil forward of the hearing, reviews CBS Austin. On Saturday, Reed spoke about the mobile phone to a team of supporters, stating he was emotion “pretty optimistic.”

“Staying capable to reach out and touch base with my household and buddies has been a blessing,” Reed explained.

Reed’s family members identified as it a “wonder” that Reed has been provided the option to present new evidence in court, the station studies.

“From working day a single all we at any time desired was a good trial,” Reed’s brother Rodrick Reed told the station.

A judge is not instantly envisioned to rule just after the two-week hearing in excess of regardless of whether Reed deserves a new trial. A ultimate choice will in the end be handed down by the appeals court docket.

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