On Nov. 20, the state of Texas is scheduled to execute Rodney Reed, a man found guilty for the rape and murder of Stacey Stites in 1996. After 21 years on death row, the 51-year-old maintains his innocence, citing a well of evidence that exonerates him of this incident.
After an investigation into the case, proof seemingly implicates Stites’ fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, ABC News reports. In a sworn affidavit published by The Statesman, claims from former prisoner Arthur Snow Jr. recall Fennell boasting about Reed’s sentencing. Fennell was imprisoned for 10 years after being found guilty of kidnapping and sexual assault. “He was talking about his fiance with a lot of hatred and anger,” Snow stated. After this revelation, Snow said Fennell confessed to the murder and said his fiance “had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back.”
Reed and Stites were reportedly having an affair, a decision he’s reflecting on in an interview with ABC News. “Early on I was somewhat upset, just for knowing her. If I wouldn’t have known her, I wouldn’t have been associated with her [and] I wouldn’t be in this situation,” Reed said. “But, this is the situation that was handed to me so I have [to] accept … that I did know her. I have to accept that there was a relationship. I have to accept that I’m here now for something that I didn’t do.”
Since 2001, The Innocence Project, which aids in exonerating people imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit, has been working Reed’s case. The organization’s senior attorney, Bryce Benjet, said there’s enough evidence to block Reed’s execution. “We certainly think that somebody should stay this execution, and give us an opportunity to present this evidence in an orderly way,” Benjet said. “At the end of the day, if you look at all of the evidence, it shows that Rodney didn’t commit this crime, and it paints a clear picture of who did.”
Since news of the execution made headlines during the first weekend of November, celebrities and activists have shared Reed’s story and a link to a petition to stop his execution. The state’s Governor Greg Abbott has been the recipient of this call to action to reverse Texas’ ruling to execute Reed.
How insane!!!! New witness comes forward that Rodeny was NOT the murderer!!!! He is set to be executed Nov 20th. https://t.co/AgGcqVpjV6
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 31, 2019
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I just signed the petition to stop the execution of #RODNEYREED @justice4rodneyreed Thank you @shaunking for shining such a bright light on this situation where this brother will be executed in the next 16 days for a crime that he did not commit. Please everyone we cannot let this happen. Sign the petition. If this was you, you would need and want the whole World to sign the petition so do your part.
— LLCOOLJ. (@llcoolj) November 4, 2019
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) November 4, 2019
— Questlove from @SongsThatShook Oct 13th @AMC_tv (@questlove) November 4, 2019
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) November 3, 2019
Today I sent a letter to Gov. Abbott asking him to grant a 30-day reprieve of the execution of #RodneyReed and request the Board of Pardons and Paroles investigate his claims during that time. #txlege pic.twitter.com/3XKyTxSKZa
— Rep. John Bucy III (@BucyForTexas) October 28, 2019