Rodney Reed has been a Texas death row inmate since his trial for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites. Stites was the 19-year-old fiancée of Officer Jimmy Fennell. During his trial, the state argued that Reed had raped and murdered the 19-year-old, and the jury sentenced him to death. On February 23, 2015 an appeals court in Texas announced that Reed would not be executed on March 5, 2015 as previously planned. For the time being, his execution has been put on hold.
At trial a forensics witness for the prosecution testified that Reed’s semen had been found in Stites body shortly before she was murdered. Reed explained that he had been having sex with Stites for about four or five months before she was murdered and that he had sex with her about a day before her murder. The forensics witness was Dr. Roberto Bayardo, who, at the time of the trial, was the Travis County Medical Examiner. In August of 2012 Bayardo admitted that he really didn’t know the age of the semen or how long before her murder it had been deposited in her body. Stites body was found on the floorboard of a truck belonging to Fennell. Inside the truck were no fingerprints belonging to Reed or anyone else; only those of Stites and Fennell.
Six days after Stites body was found on the floorboard of the couples truck, the truck was returned to Fennell. A full forensic investigation on the truck was never completed. On top of that, Fennell sold the truck to a dealership shortly after it was returned to him. Not one witness was found who could place Reed anywhere near the scene of the crime during the time Stites was murdered. The last place that Stites was ever seen alive was the apartment that she shared with Fennell. That apartment was never even searched by investigators.
Reeds allies claim that there is a very simple alternative theory for the murder of Stites: Jimmy Fennell murdered her. Mary Blackwell was a police officer in the Dallas area who went through the police academy with Fennell. She has testified that Fennell mentioned to several class members that if his girlfriend ever cheated on him, he would kill her. When Fennell was asked how he would do it, he replied he would strangle her. When asked how his fingerprints would not appear on her neck he said he had a plan for that too; use a belt. Stites was strangled to death with a belt. Allies of Reed put forth the very simple theory that Fennell discovered the relationship between Stites and Reed, and then, as promised, he strangled her with a belt.
Reeds attorneys earned his appeal with their most recent petition by claiming that new scientific evidence has been discovered which contradicts the original time of death put forth at the trial. Reeds attorneys believe this evidence will establish once and for all that Reed did not murder Stites. At Brownstone Law we hope to see a fair outcome from this horrible crime.
Speak with an appellate lawyer.