Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed’s execution stayed by appeals court
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed death row inmate Rodney Reed’s execution Friday, hours after the state Board of Pardons and Paroles officially recommended delaying the execution in order to review Reed’s conviction.
Reed was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Nov. 20. The board recommended a 120-day delay but rejected Reed’s appeal for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison.
“I have tears streaming down my cheeks,” Andrew MacRae, one of Reed’s lawyers, said. “I’m overwhelmed, but not yet ecstatic because we have to wait for the governor to act. But assuming he approves this, I’m going to call Rodney’s mom, and that will be ecstatic.”
The decision now rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott who can accept the board’s suggestion, reject it or ignore it completely. Abbott has only delayed one execution since taking office in 2015.
A rally outside the governor’s mansion in Austin is set for Sunday.
Reed was convicted in 1998 for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, a town outside of Austin.
Family members of the victim, celebrities, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a re-examination of evidence from the case, saying Reed’s guilt should be seriously reconsidered.
An all-white jury convicted Reed, who is black, of raping and strangling Stites, who was white, while she was on her way to work at a grocery store.
Reed was connected to the murder by DNA evidence but claimed during the trial that he and Stites were having an affair and that the real killer was her fiance, police officer Jimmy Fennell who had found out about their relationship.
A jailhouse informant signed an affidavit claiming that Fennell admitted to murdering Stites while he was serving prison time for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in his custody. Another witness claimed that Fennell said, “You got what you deserved” while looking at Stites’ casket during her funeral.