AUSTIN (KXAN) — Anti-death penalty activists will join family and friends of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed in protest on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday after the Texas high court denied Reed’s latest appeal.
The family intends to plead with the Supreme Court to overturn what they say was a wrongful conviction.
“Tonight, Rodrick and others in Rodney’s family are pleading with SCOTUS to ensure Texas does not continue to violate Rodney’s constitutional rights by denying him access to DNA testing of the crime scene evidence which can prove his innocence and a new, fair trial,” the group wrote in a news release.
Stacey Stites was murdered in 1996 and her body was dumped on a rural Bastrop County road. DNA from the Stites case matched Reed, but Reed said he had a consensual and secret intimate relationship with her. Stites was engaged at the time. Reed was convicted a year later in her death.
Reed has sought to overturn his conviction for years and the Court of Criminal Appeals most recently dismissed his application for relief last week. Reed’s lawyers argue that the scientific expert opinions used at trial more than 20 years ago have since changed.
In 2017, the appeals court denied Reed’s appeal after a hearing in Bastrop County that included new testimony and evidence presented by the defense.
Reed’s case has garnered national attention as his defense team, led by Innocence Project attorney Bryce Benjet, has uncovered new evidence, found new witnesses and cast doubt on the state’s case and critical forensic evidence used at trial.
Stites was set to marry Jimmy Fennell, a Georgetown police officer, at the time of her murder. Fennell was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for an unrelated crime. He was accused of raping a woman in his custody but pleaded guilty to lesser charges. He was recently released from prison.
Reed’s attorney said a wealth of new evidence shows Fennell was the actual killer.