Celebrities Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and others are calling for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to stop the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed, a Black man who claims he is innocent and whose lawyers say mounting evidence would exonerate.
Reed, 51, who is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 20, was convicted of the 1996 sexual assault and murder of then-19-year-old Stacey Stites, who was white.
The Innocence Project, which is part of Reed’s legal team, last week filed for a commutation of Reed’s sentence, as well as for a new hearing in the case “in light of the grave doubt concerning his guilt.”
The lawyers cite evidence they say proves Reed’s innocence and that points to the alleged guilt of Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, who was a police officer at the time and a person of interest in her murder. (Fennell’s lawyer told CBS News that his client was not involved in Stites’ murder and had been “devastated” by her death.)
Fennell spent 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman he had in custody in 2007.
In the commutation request, Reed’s lawyers said a former prisoner and leader of the Aryan Brotherhood crime syndicate who was imprisoned with Fennell, who is white, said last week that Fennell had said his fiancée “had been sleeping around with a Black man” and that he had to kill his “nigger loving fiancée.”
Rodney Reed was convicted for the murder of Stacey Stites (pictured) on DNA evidence. Reed, who had been accused but not convicted in multiple other sexual assault cases, denied he killed Stites and the DNA match was because they were having a consensual relationship
Reed’s lawyers have requested a DNA test of the murder weapon, which the state hasn’t done. They also point to expert witnesses who have since recanted their testimony.
Reed asks ”only for commutation because he wants to be vindicated in court, so that a jury of his peers can hear all of the evidence in his case,” Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Innocence Project, told HuffPost.
Reed was convicted by an all-white jury.
“Anyone who looks at the evidence fairly will understand that the wrong man was sent to death row for this murder,” Benjet said.
PLEASE @GovAbbott How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 19, 2019