Cousin of Stacey Stites believes Rodney Reed is innocent

 "The Friends Meeting of Austin" opened up their East Austin location Sunday afternoon to hold a press conference and discussion in support of death row inmate Rodney Reed.
   
Among the speakers, Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known death penalty opponent who wrote the book "Dead Man Walking."
   
"Get it out to the press, get it out to the people and just say 'Do we absolutely have to kill him with all these questions?'  And that would be the approach to Governor Abbott.  There are questions about this man's innocence.  Grant the reprieve for 60 days at least," Prejean said.

Reed was convicted in 1998 of Stacey Stites' murder.  Last week, Reed's legal team delivered new evidence in the form of a petition to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

"Once you really get good defense in there and experts that look at the forensics and all, you go 'Wait a minute, this thing's held together with bailing wire and scotch tape.'  There's not truth in this,'" Prejean said.

One of Reed's attorneys, Quinncy McNeal says they have the opinions of 3 renowned medical experts.

"Their findings corroborate the fact that there was a relationship between Rodney Reed and Stacey Stittes, also that there was no sexual assault...and probably most importantly that Stacey Stites died on Monday, April 22nd when she was in the company and care of Mr. Jimmy Fennell," McNeal said.

Jimmy Fennell, Stites' fiance at the time, went on to become a Georgetown Police officer.  In 2008 he was sent to prison for sexually assaulting a woman while on duty.

Heather Stobbs is Stacy Stites' cousin -- while she doesn't speak for the rest of her family, Stobbs believes Fennell should be named the suspect.

"My aunt said she saw them go upstairs at 8:00 and they're saying that she died between 8 and midnight...so she was with Jimmy," she said.

She says there's no doubt in her mind, Reed is innocent.

 "Now that we have independent medical examiners saying 'Ok now that was totally wrong, she didn't die at 3:00 in the morning.'  The Lividity proves it, the Rigor Mortis proves it, all these things prove it.  Now I'm absolutely positive," she said.

Rodney Reed's brother Roderick also spoke to the crowd on Sunday.  He says it was good to see Stobbs and everyone else there supporting his brother.

"In the beginning, we had nobody standing in our corner.  Time brings about a change and this change has been good.  A lot of people are now seeing the truth for what it is," Reed said.

Roderick Reed says there's a way people can help his brother.

"Call the Governor's office.  Blow his phone up.  Let him know that they got an innocent man on death row and they got to stay this execution so we can get a new trial here...that's all I want," Reed said.

As Mrs. Stobbs said, she doesn't speak for the rest of her family.  A few months ago, we spoke with Stacy Stites' sister Debra Oliver who said they believe "...Rodney Reed was the right person and he committed this crime."

Reed's legal team also filed a petition with the Board of Pardons and Paroles seeking to change his death sentence to life instead.
   
The board votes and makes a recommendation to the Governor.
   
Reed is set for execution March 5th.




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