Hearing for Rodney Reed ends, awaits judge's decision

The hearing for Rodney Reed ended Friday with his mother giving a shout of relief and support to her son. "Love ya baby," said Sandra Reed, who later in the parking lot of the sheriff's department expressed a feeling of vindication. "We've been fighting for justice for a long time, and I feel like justice has prevailed today."

Carol Stites, the mother of the woman Reed was convicted of killing, was the final witness to testify Friday. "Stacey, the last words to me was, i love you mom, and she went out the door," said Stites.

She left the hearing unmoved from what she believes is the truth. "2000 years ago, a man died that had no sin, 20 years ago a man killed my daughter that was full of sin .... I'll tell you God is always in control and he will do what is best for everyone, I was going to stand up for my daughter, I love my daughter and I have never thought Jimmy killed Stacey," said Stites.

Rodney Reed has avoided at least one execution date, and this hearing which was granted by the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, was done to look into some conflicting statements made by Stites' former fiance, Jimmy Fennell, about his alibi. 

Its argued the discrepancies could have factored into the murder trial back 1998.

Matthew Ottoway, attorney for the state, downplayed the significance of when Fennell said he came home April 22nd, 1996. "Jimmy and Stacey Stites had a good relationship," said Ottoway.

The 22nd was the day before the body of Stites was found in a rural part of Bastrop County.

Earlier in the week, Curtis Davis, a friend of Jimmy Fennell, testified about his television interview that Fennell told him he had been out drinking. "What needs to be remembered about these claims is that they are based on an unsworn interview that took place that took place in 2016, 20 years after the supposed conversation with Jimmy Fennel took place," said Ottoway.

Defense attorney Andrew Macrae challenged the state's assessment of their case. "Minimal impact, that is what Mr. Ottoway just said, he has not been paying attention," said Macrae.

Lawyers for Reed used the hearing as an opportunity to introduce a new analysis of the autopsy of Stacey Stites. It indicated she had died several hours before the time Fennell had told investigators that she left for work on April 23rd, 1996. "The forensic evidence makes it scientifically and medically impossible for Rodney Reed to have committed the crime," said Bryce Benjet with the Innocence Project.

What did not come up  during the hearing were several unresolved claims of sexual assaults against Reed.

They allegedly were committed, before and after the murder of Stacey Stites.

Both mothers offered different opinions about those cases. "I think it is about time time people stop trying to defend Rodney Reed and look at Rodney Reed for who he is," said Carol Stites.

"I understand, and we want justice for Stacey as well, see this fight has been for both, but Rodney happens to be my son, convicted of something he didn't do. We are fighting for both of them," said Sandra Reed.

Judge Doug Shaver left court with an escort and  a warning. There will be no quick ruling ...

He estimates it may take him six weeks to two months to make a decision. 

The ruling from the judge will then be sent to the court of criminal appeals. That court will have the final say about whether or not Reed will get a new trial, and the final ruling may not come until late next year.

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