Supporters rally for Rodney Reed in Bastrop ahead of May hearing

Rodney Reed

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Supporters rallied for Rodney Reed outside the Bastrop County courthouse Saturday ahead of his May hearing.

Reed’s family, including his brother, Rodrick, continued their calls for justice at the event. They maintain Reed’s innocence and say he was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Stacey Stites in 1997.

“Free Rodney Reed!” they chanted. His supporters say the state continues to keep crucial evidence from being tested and heard in the case.

Police found Stites’ body on the side of a rural Bastrop road when she didn’t show up for work at H-E-B in April 1996.

For a long-time, investigators considered her fiance, Jimmy Fennell, a prime suspect. He was the last one to see her at their apartment in nearby Giddings the night before. Investigators ruled him out due to lack of evidence.

Reed didn’t become a suspect until almost a year later, when he was accused in another separate alleged sexual assault near Bastrop High School. A DNA match would ultimately lead to a conviction in the case and a death sentence for Reed on May 18, 1998.

After a lengthy court battle, he was ultimately scheduled to be executed in 2019, but the Texas Court of Appeals granted an indefinite stay at the last minute.

“We are just trying to get people back involved in Rodney’s case because this hearing is coming up because we want the whole world to watch Bastrop as they make their decision in this hearing,” said Rodrick.

Reed’s hearing is scheduled for May 17. His family said he recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, but has since made a full recovery.

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