On Friday, Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed received an 11th hour halt of his November 20th date with death. In dramatic fashion, the Court of Criminal Appeals decided to suspend Rodney’s execution indefinitely. Rodney, a black man, was convicted over 20 years ago for the rape and murder of Stacey Stites, a white woman, in Bastrop, Texas. Stacey was only 19 at the time of her death, and Rodney has maintained his innocence since the beginning.
The court ordered Rodney Reed’s original trial court to hear new evidence that has come forward from several eyewitnesses pointing the finger at Stacey Stites’ fiance, Jimmy Fennell, who just happened to be a local police officer at the time of Stacey’s murder. Fennell himself was eventually sent to prison for 10 years after raping a young woman in his custody while serving as a police officer. A major new witness in the case has also identified Fennell as a member of the Aryan Nation.
This decision came only hours after Rodney Reed’s legal team got its first win from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The body recommended to Governor Greg Abbott that Rodney Reed’s execution should be halted for 120 days. However, still left undecided is whether the new ruling will compel the court to yield to Rodney’s legal team’s request to have the murder weapon, Stacey Stites’ belt, tested for DNA. The Texas court had previously decided testing the murder weapon was not going to happen.
Reality superstar Kim Kardashian, one of the celebrities that has recently taken up Rodney Reed’s plight to stay alive, was actually with Rodney when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision came down. She told the Today show’s Jenna Bush Hager that Rodney’s reaction was simply… “Praise Jesus.”