Governor Abbott weighs in on Rodney Reed stay of execution

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Governor Abbott weighed in on the court of criminal appeal's decision to temporarily spare convicted killer Rodney Reed's life. Reed was set to be executed next week for the rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.

On Monday night, Rodrick Reed stood before the media in Bastrop with a restored confidence that his brother Rodney would be found innocent for the 19-96 murder of Stacey Stites.

"It's been very emotional, very stressful, crying out for 18 years and it fell on deaf ears. Slowly things changed by the grace of God, people started looking into it. Today is a major, major victory, a major sign of relief for our family knowing that we do have believers in us, in Rodney," said Reed.

The court of criminal appeals issued a stay of Rodney Reed's execution with only 10 days to spare.

"God is the light, the truth and the way and the truth is out there and he's going to find and show the way to everybody else. This is the first step in getting toward that goal," said Reed.

Stites, whom Reed claims to have had a romantic relationship with, was found dead on the side of a rural road in Bastrop County.

At the time of her death she was engaged to Jimmy Fennell. Fennell is currently in prison for sexually assaulting a woman while he was on duty as a Georgetown police officer.

Before ending the brief press conference Monday, Roderick called on the governor.

"I want to say to the governor himself, look at this, look into this case. This man is innocent and do the right thing," said Reed.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott responded to the court's decision with approval.

"First, it's important for us to have an effective death penalty in the state of Texas. We need to be certain that whenever it's applied, we know that the person did commit the crime. So, I think this is a healthy process that the court announced what it did so that we can put beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, that he really is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted," said Governor Greg Abbott.

Attorney Andrew MacRae has worked with Rodney since 2004 and filed the majority of his six prior appeals. Why the seventh grabbed the court's attention, MacRae can only guess.

"I think that it may be that we've been going at it for so long and so hard and have put forward so much evidence that maybe finally someone has seen that this is not just a small wave, this is an actual tide of evidence," said MacRae.

The newest evidence involves the timeline of Stites' death. MacRae says the state's theory that Stites was abducted, raped and murdered simultaneously is false. He says three forensic pathologists have determined Stites' body was dumped on the side of the road at least four hours after she was killed.

"Our position is what is the possible harm in letting these witnesses present their testimony about the state's case being medically and scientifically impossible? What is the harm in doing more DNA testing? Why doesn't the state, if the state is absolutely sure it has the right man why doesn't it say sure knock yourselves out. Test anything you want. We've got the right guy," said MacRae.

The court of criminal appeals could do anything from deciding to lift the stay and setting another execution date. Or they could grant Reed an evidentiary hearing in Bastrop County where the new evidence would be presented to a judge. The judge could decide to do anything from granting reed a new trial to exonerating him.

Fox 7 will head to death row and talk with Reed Wednesday.