Rodney Reed should not be retried in murder case, judge says

A judge who was appointed to reexamine the case of death row inmate Rodney Reed has recommended that Reed should not get a new trial.

Reed's attorney Jane Pucher, and Senior Staff attorney at The Innocence Project, issued the following statement after Judge J.D. Langley's recommendation.

"We look forward to presenting Mr. Reed’s case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. If a new jury heard the overwhelming evidence of Rodney Reed’s innocence, it would have reasonable doubts. Convicted by an all-white jury, Mr. Reed has spent 23 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Many highly credible witnesses testified at the evidentiary hearing that Mr. Reed and Stacey Stites knew each other and were intimately involved."

"Many credible witnesses also testified that Ms. Stites’s fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, was violent and controlling and had threatened to hurt her if he discovered she was unfaithful. Nationally recognized experts have completely debunked the forensic case against Mr. Reed and even the State’s pathology expert has agreed that central points at trial were false. We hope the Court of Criminal Appeals recognizes that he should be given a new trial."

Reed was sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites whose body was found in Bastrop in 1996. He was convicted of murder after his DNA was found on her, but he has always maintained he’s innocent. His case has garnered national attention with celebrities like Kim Kardashian weighing in on the case.

In November 2019, just five days until his execution date, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay on his execution

Reed appeared for the first time after his execution was stayed in January 2020. He appeared in a Bastrop County courtroom where his lawyers were trying to get Bastrop County Judge Carson Campbell to preside over the case and review any new evidence, instead of Brazos County Judge Langley who was assigned to the case. That request was ultimately denied.

The appeal hearing for Reed began at the beginning of July 2021 and ended that same month. Both Stites' family and Reed's family were present each day listening to testimony.

Stites was engaged to then-police officer Jimmy Fennell at the time of her death and Reed's lawyers attempted to provide evidence that Fennell was actually responsible for Stites' death.

Speaking to FOX 7 Austin in January 2020, Stites' sister Debra Oliver said, "I think that the justice system has been doing a good job and we want him to have his due process, but at the end of the day the man is guilty of violently raping and murdering my sister."

Stites’ family and Jimmy Fennell’s attorney have also said they feel Reed was rightfully convicted back in 1998 and that the evidence shows he is guilty.

Although the US Supreme Court declined to take up Reed’s appeal in 2020, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Reed "presented a substantial body of evidence that, if true, casts doubt on the case," and left the door open to the high court taking up the case at a later date. 

State has family of Stites and Fennell take the stand in Reed hearing
State brings in forensic experts on day seven of Reed hearing 
State brings in memory expert in Rodney Reed evidentiary hearing
State calls on law enforcement witnesses in Rodney Reed hearing
Stacey Stites' fiancé takes witness stand for questioning
Day 3 of Rodney Reed's hearing continues to see witness statements
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