AUSTIN, Texas - On day three of Rodney Reed's evidentiary hearing, his defense continued to present their case to District Judge J.D. Langley.
The morning began with the witness Susan Hugen, brought in by the defense, who worked at HEB in Bastrop with the murder victim, Stacey Stites. She said Stites was a hard-worker and a jokester and that Stites would act if she were afraid of her fiancé Jimmy Fennell when he came around.
Hugen also testified that Stites introduced her to Rodney Reed, which would prove they had a relationship, which is different from what the state said in the original trial.
The next witness was Dr. Greg Davis, an independent forensic pathologist from the University of Kentucky, who testified via Zoom. After viewing the evidence and crime scene footage, he agreed with Dr. Andrew Baker's original testimony from Monday. Baker had stated that Stites died hour earlier than the 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. window the state originally argued.
He also said the bruises on her body could not be dated, which is also contrary to the state's original case 23 years ago. The state cross-examined the doctor and questioned variables like humidity being 80 percent that day in Bastrop and if that could have affected the speed of decomposition.
After the lunch break the state brought in Richard Scroggins, a passerby who claims to have seen Stites and Fennell in a parking lot.
To help bolster their testimony to Fennell's character, the defense brought Fennell and Stites' neighbors Brent and Vicki Sappington to the stand. They claim to have heard Fennell yelling at Stites, and throwing furniture around the apartment above where Brent’s dad lives.
A dispatcher even testified that one of her officers responded to a call from their apartment unit.
Brent Sappington's wife's Vicki testified that she came forward today because she believes Reed is an innocent man sitting on death row.
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