European Union urges Gov. Abbott to call off Rodney Reed’s execution

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The European Union threw its support behind Rodney Reed amid mounting pressure to postpone the death row inmate’s execution.

In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, the EU stated that Reed should not die because evidence “casts substantial doubt as to his culpability.”

Reed is due to be executed for the murder of Stacey Stites on Nov. 20, but his family and supporters insist he is an innocent man.

Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Ambassador to the U.S., wrote to Abbott this week. The letter was posted on Twitter by the EU on Friday.

In the letter, Lambrinidis wrote, “The European Union recognizes that the murder of Ms. Stacey Stites was a terrible act deserving of harsh punishment and wishes to express its sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the victim.

“However, the European Union also firmly believes that capital punishment does not serve the memory or bring compensation for the victims of heinous crimes.”

Later, Lambrinidis wrote: “Evidence in Mr. Reed’s case casts substantial doubt as to his culpability. Moreover, Mr. Reed is seeking DNA testing of evidence that has not been previously tested.”

“Under these circumstances, we believe the state should not proceed with the execution without allowing for those tests.”

New voices have also joined the call to save Reed from his death sentence. Dozens rallied outside the State Capitol Saturday afternoon, and Reed’s family reacted to the European Union’s support.

“They [the European Union] said that they were going to put together a letter to give to governor Greg Abbott and they came through,” Rodrick Reed, Rodney’s brother, said. “I appreciate that, it’s good news.”

Gov. Abbott did not address the letter on Twitter. A spokesperson from his office told KXAN on Saturday that he did not have a comment at this time.

Activists and attorneys are asking Gov. Abbott to change Reed’s sentencing to life in prison.

“We’re asking you, governor, use your power to do the right thing,” Sandra Reed, Rodney Reed’s Mother said.

However, Jon Wisser, a senior district court judge in Travis County, said the governor can only do so much to stop an execution.

“If someone has an execution date, he can grant a 30-day reprieve,” Wisser said. “He can put off the execution date one time for 30 days.”

The governor can also only pardon someone from death row after a recommendation to do so from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately intervene too.

For decades Reed and his family have maintained that he did not kill 19-year-old Stites in Bastrop in 1996.

However, a new witness came forward this week to claim that Stite’s fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, bragged in prison about killing her for sleeping with Reed. Fennell allegedly made those comments while serving a 10-year sentence for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman.

In a sworn affidavit, the witness Arthur Snow gave an account of Fennell saying Stites was “sleeping around with a black man behind his back.”

Snow said the conversation happened in 2010 while Fennell was serving his 10-year sentence.

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