Further DNA testing denied in Rodney Reed case

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Death-row inmate Rodney Reed speaks with KXAN from prison. (KXAN Photo/ Ben Freiberg).

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — The state’s top criminal appeals court affirmed on Wednesday a lower trial court’s denial of further DNA testing of numerous pieces of evidence in the case of death-row inmate Rodney Reed.

Reed’s defense team sought post-conviction testing of more than 40 items related to the killing of Stacey Stites. A Bastrop jury convicted Reed of capital murder and sentenced him to death for strangling, sexually assaulting and dumping Stites along a rural Bastrop road in late April of 1996.

Stites was just days away from marrying a Giddings police officer, Jimmy Fennell.

Reed has argued the state should allow testing of items recovered from Stites’ body and clothing, items found in her fiance’s truck and evidence found near the location her body was found.

According to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals opinion, “Reed cannot establish that exculpatory DNA results would have resulted in his acquittal and his motion is not made for the purpose of unreasonable delay.”

  • You can read the full opinion here.

Reed’s execution was initially set for Jan. 14, 2015 but was later stayed as the courts reviewed defense requests for more DNA testing, among other issues.

The state has argued that much of the evidence has been “contaminated, tampered or altered,” according to the opinion.

“The cumulative weight of the State’s and Reed’s witnesses demonstrates that the manner in which the evidence was handled and stored casts doubt on the evidence’s integrity, especially for the specific testing Reed seeks,” the Court of Criminal Appeals opinion states.

Reed’s defense attorney, Bryce Benjet, was not immediately available for comment.

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