365 days after Rodney Reed was set to die on death row, his family and supporters are still begging for his freedom.
"I continue to come out to events like this because we have a broken criminal justice system in this country. This is a perfect example of it. This is a man who has been proven not guilty many, many times over, yet the criminal injustice system that we have continues to keep him in prison and it's just so sad that this is going on," said Barbara James who has been rallying for Reed’s release for two years.
Reed, who says he was romantically linked to Bastrop teen Stacy Stites, was sentenced to death in 1998 for her murder. Stites' body was found on the side of the road just two years prior to his conviction. It was determined Stites was raped and strangled to death on her way to work.
Reeds attorneys have filed countless appeals over the years, but their latest attempt, one year ago, was the only one which halted his execution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Rodney's execution after his lawyer filed a motion presenting the new evidence.
"The people that are on the board of pardons should take a close look at this and realize that they are responsible for this man being in jail for almost 20 years," James said.
Reeds attorneys said three forensic pathologists have looked over evidence and found Stites was killed four hours before her body was found. Rodney’s lawyers argue that implicates Stites' fiancé Jimmy Fennel was responsible for her death.
"This evidence is as good as DNA. It shows that Stacy was killed hours earlier, and if they can't put Rodney at that scene, and the other individual states that he was there with her on those hours, then he's the murderer, case closed," said retired NYPD Homicide Detective Kevin Gannon.
Fennel became a Georgetown police officer, but in 2008 he was convicted for sexually assaulting a woman while on duty and sent to prison.
“There's no justice for Stacy because she was murdered. There's no justice for her family and the person who murdered her still hasn't been convicted and yet an innocent man, which is even worse than that, is in jail on death row for her murder which he didn't commit,” Gannon said.
Rodney's mother said nothing has happened with this case since the stay of execution was granted.
Saturday, Rodney’s family and supporters wanted to send a message to the court: that Rodney is an innocent man who should be free, not sitting in a 60 square foot cell.
"I was thinking that my baby would be home, but he's still there. The same corrupt system that put him there is still keeping him there and so they had scheduled his execution for the fifth of March, which is today, so I'm just celebrating his life a year today, his fight for life, truth and freedom," said Sandra Reed, Rodney’s mother.
Sandra visited Rodney two weeks ago and says he is encouraged by the amount of support he has received during his time in prison.
"We're just going to enjoy this day and just celebrate his life. He's still in it for the fight," Sandra said.