BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — A Bastrop District court has set an execution date for death-row inmate Rodney Reed. He is set to be put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 20, 2019, according to an order signed by Presiding Judge Doug Shaver.
The order details eight times Reed has unsuccessfully attempted to appeal and overturn his conviction over the past 20 years since he was convicted in the 1996 strangulation and sexual assault of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
A prosecutor for the state filed a motion requesting an execution date on July 12. Reed’s attorney, Bryce Benjet, argued the state filed that motion in retaliation for Reed’s family protesting the case in Washington D.C. a day earlier. Benjet said the state violated the Reed family’s 1st Amendment rights and falsely implied the execution date would not interfere with litigation in the case, according to a motion.
“The setting of Mr. Reed’s execution date at this point in his legal proceedings is both unusual and inappropriate,” Benjet said in a statement. “The Bastrop County District Attorney has not provided any explanation for why he would seek to interfere with Mr. Reed’s ordinary right to federal review of his substantial constitutional claims and his evidence of innocence.”
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Reed’s execution in 2015 but ultimately denied the case on June 26. Benjet said the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts would review the case.
In a previous response to Benjet’s filing to stop the execution date from being set, Bastrop County Criminal District Attorney Bryan Goertz said “the state has petitioned the Court of Criminal Appeals to deny the most recent Reed motions because they are improper and without merit,” according to a statement released to KXAN on July 22.
Stites was set to marry her fiance Jimmy Fennell, a Giddings police officer, within days of her death.
DNA found on Stites linked Reed to the murder. Reed claims he was involved in a secret sexual relationship with her, and the defense has brought forward several witnesses since the original trial who say they knew of the relationship.
In a separate and unrelated case, Fennell, who later became a Georgetown police officer, served 10 years in prison and was released in 2018. He was accused of raping a woman in his custody and pleaded guilty to lesser charges.