AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorneys for Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed say they have new evidence proving he is not guilty. Reed was convicted of the rape and murder of Stacy Stites in Bastrop in 1996. His execution date is set for March 5, but his attorney is confident they can get the execution pushed back.
Reed’s defense is filing a petition asking the court to reconsider the case. It includes findings from three forensic scientists claiming their evidence shows Reed could not have been the person who killed Stites. It all has to do with timing.
Prosecutors have said all along that Stites was killed around 3 a.m. and her body was found about 12 hours later. They say Reed abducted, raped and strangled her.
However, Reed’s defense attorney says their new evidence shows she was killed hours earlier, the night before. And he says the only person with her was her fiancé, Jimmy Fennel. The defense also says Stites and Reed had been in a relationship for a few months and that is why his DNA was found.
“I would hope that the state would want to execute someone only after it was certain that that person was guilty,” said Andrew MacRae, Reed’s defense attorney. “What the state is trying to do here, in our view, is rush the execution date, before we can get to the evidence that establishes Mr. Reed’s innocence.”
Reed is sitting in prison in Livingston, Texas. This week Reed spoke with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in an interview that will air next month. He talked about living on death row for nearly two decades.
“I have guys that I associate with because when you go as far as making a friend, I mean, there’s feelings there, that, if you know what a true friend is, you know what I’m saying, next thing you know, the state’s gonna take them. It’s more than likely that the state’s gonna kill him,” Reed told Hayes.
MacRae says Stites and Reed had an affair for months, which explains why his DNA was found. But the defense wants more evidence tested. For example, they say the belt used to strangle Stites was never tested.
Fennell is now in prison for a sexual assault he was convicted of as a Georgetown police officer in September 2008. An attorney who’s represented Fennell had this to say about the new appeal coming from Reed’s attorney: “More than a dozen courts have turned down every Rodney Reed appeal, and I’ll be shocked if ‘new time of death’ evidence persuades anybody.”
He continued to say Reed made up the story of an affair after investigators found his DNA on Stacey’s body.