As Rodney Reed's execution date fast approaches, more than 70 people packed into a community center in Bastrop on Saturday to apply pressure on state officials to reconsider his case.
Reed was convicted in 1996 of murdering 19-year-old Stacey Stites, a woman he said he had been having an affair with. Advocates, including some of Stites' family members, are asking the state to retry the case after a former medical examiner recanted testimony linking DNA from the murder to Reed. Major evidence in the case, including the murder weapon, has also never been tested.
“Let us have a fair trial with a jury of our peers,” his brother Rodrick Reed told the crowd.
His organization, Reed Justice Initiative, is asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole and Gov. Greg Abbott to stop the Nov. 20 execution.
“I’m tired of looking at our broken home and seeing the sadness in my mother’s eyes because she can’t hold her son,” Rodrick said.
Reed's lawyers say evidence points to Stites’ ex-fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a police officer at the time, as a suspect in her murder.
Attendees heard from the Reed family, several death row inmates who were exonerated, faith leaders and law enforcement officials who have increasingly gotten behind the Reed Justice Initiative.
“So many things about this case don’t add up to me and so many other law enforcement officers that I know,” said 28-year law enforcement veteran Deke Pierce, who’s running to be Travis County Precinct 2 Constable.
Lawmakers like state Rep. Vikki Goodwin also voiced their support for a retrial.
“Please know that Rodney's case has drawn the attention of a handful of legislators across the political spectrum,” she said. “My hope is that our combined efforts will continue to draw attention to Rodney and in turn, stop his execution in November.”
The Reed Justice Initiative is about to go on a cross-country trip to raise awareness about the case, stopping in Los Angeles for an appearance on The Dr. Phil Show.
“It’s a bigger picture than Rodney Reed out here,” Rodrick said. “It’s like having a knife stuck in your back in such a position that it doesn’t kill you, but you feel that pain every day. That’s how it felt for so many years. But now I’m here to tell you that we have people stepping up.”
Advocates are expected to hold a rally at the governor’s mansion Sept. 30.