As Rodney Reed’s lawyers scramble to get the 21-year-old case reexamined before his Nov. 20 execution date, a new witness has stepped forward accusing a former police officer of the murder of Stacey Stites.
Arthur Snow served time in prison with Stites' fiancé, Jimmy Fennell. According to an affidavit in a clemency petition filed on Reed's behalf, Snow said Fennell confided in him that he killed the 19-year-old, who was found strangled and raped in Bastrop in 1996.
In the affidavit, Snow said he was a high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist group. Fennell, who was serving a 10-year sentence for raping a woman he had taken into custody, asked for Snow's protection.
Snow said Fennell told him Stites had been having an affair with a black man and that he had to kill his “n----- -loving fiancé.”
“My impression was that [Fennell] felt safe, even proud, sharing this information with me,” Snow stated.
During Reed's trial, the state connected him to the murder through semen collected from her body. Reed said he was having an affair with Stites, and they had sex the day before her murder.
Snow said a few years ago he saw an article about Reed that mentioned Fennell had been a suspect in the murder.
“At the time, I still had a heavy gang-mentality and decided that it was none of my business,” he stated.
In the affidavit signed Tuesday, Snow said he couldn’t let his silence about what Fennell had told him weigh on his conscience. Several other witnesses have also accused Fennell of Stites’ murder.
Reed's clemency petition includes a request for the Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask Gov. Greg Abbott to commute his sentence and instead give him life in prison.
Reed’s lawyers want the state to allow “a reprieve of 120 days so that all of the evidence – including new information discovered in the past few weeks – can be fully investigated in an orderly manner to ensure a just and accurate result."
On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request to stop Reed’s execution. His defense is waiting on a decision from the Supreme Court about whether DNA evidence from the murder weapon can be tested, since it was never considered in Reed's trial.