Forensic experts: Mistakes made in original Rodney Reed trial

The appearance of Dr. Michael Baden Wednesday came over the objections from state attorney Matthew Ottoway. He argued the expected testimony would go beyond the reason why the court of criminal appeals ordered the hearing, which was to look into the validity of an alibi of a potential suspect, other than the man dressed in red jail house stripes, Rodney Reed.

"So there is absolutely no factual link to this is what would have happened had the supposedly inconsistent statement been exposed," said Ottoway.

Dr. Baden is a noted forensic pathologist who has worked high profile cases like the JFK assassination.

Defense attorneys for Rodney Reed, with the backing of the Innocence Project, brought Baden to Bastrop to challenge the original investigation of the murder of Stacey Stites.

During the 1998 trial, Reed could not afford to hire this kind of expert, according to his mother Sandra Reed. "Very impressive, its an honor to have him here its makes a great impact. It tells everybody that something was wrong with this case from the very beginning," said Sandra Reed.

The body of Stacey Stites was found April 23, 1996 in a wooded area near Bastrop.

Prosecutors argued she left home early in the morning, and at some point came across Rodney Reed who raped and then strangled her. Wednesday, Dr. Baden testified that based on his analysis of the original autopsy reports - critical mistakes were made. "In my opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, she was dead before midnight, of the day, the next day she was found," said Dr. Baden.

According to Baden, Stites was not only killed before midnight, on April 22, but her body was also driven in a truck to the location where she was eventually found. "As far as sexual assault, which was raised, there was no evidence, absolutely no evidence in the autopsy or findings, or photographs that she had been sexually assaulted," said Dr. Baden.

A determination that there was no rape, is an attempt by defense attorneys to address why DNA recovered from Stites body was linked back to Reed. It is claimed that Reed and Stites had a secret relationship and had sex a few days before her murder.

"We need a fair playing field that is what the constitution says, that if there is exculpatory information out there it should be disclosed, so everybody has a fair shot, and that is all Mr. Reed is asking for, is a fair shot to present all the evidence to prove his innocence.," said defense attorney Bryce Benjet.

Wednesday afternoon, Reed's original defense attorney, Lydia Clay-Jackson testified the affair was hidden because biracial relationships were frowned upon in Bastrop 20 years ago.

Clay-Jackson also testified that she felt rushed to trial by county prosecutors.

She says she was given "haystacks" of discovery  with little time to review the information.

She also said she tried to spend more time looking into Jimmy Fennel, the fiance of Stacey Stites.

Fennell, according to Clay-Jackson, refused to meet with her.

Conflicting statements allegedly made by Fennell are what prompted the hearing. Earlier in the week, through his lawyer, Fennell notified the court that if called to the stand, he would take the 5th amendment.

If the testimony presented during the hearing is not enough to exonerate him - Reed's family hope its enough to win a new trial. "Well, I've always stood on the truth, and the truth and the faith keep us going, but now I'm seeing all the powerful people come together to help us, and give us a helping hand, its just beautiful," said Sandra Reed.

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