Death row inmate Rodney Reed says he’s living ‘one day at a time’ with his execution two weeks away and a host of celebrities lobbying to have his death sentence for the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites stayed.
Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, T.I., Busta Rhymes, Meek Mill, Questlove and other well-known personalities have taken to social media to plead for Reed’s life in light of evidence they say could exonerate him for Stites’ murder in Texas in 1996.
Reed, 51, says the real killer was Stites’ former police officer fiance Jimmy Lewis Fennell Jr, who has been suspected of the crime by others.
Death row inmate Rodney Reed says in a jailhouse interview (pictured) he’s living ‘one day at a time’ with his execution two weeks away and a host of celebrities lobbying to have his death sentence for the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites stayed
Rodney Reed claims he was wrongfully convicted in the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites (pictured). Reed insists the real killer was Stites’ former police officer fiance Jimmy Lewis Fennell Jr, who has been suspected of the crime by others
‘The evidence points directly in that direction’, Reed tells NBC News in a jailhouse interview broadcast Thursday.
Reed, who is black, claims he was wrongfully convicted in the murder of Stites, who was white, and insists Fennell, who served a 10-year sentence for raping a woman while on duty, is responsible.
‘I’m innocent of this case, absolutely innocent,’ he said in the jailhouse interview with NBC, saying he’s living ‘one day at a time’ and ‘as well as to be expected,’ with time running out on his impending execution.
‘I’m thinking about family, thinking about my freedom, thinking about my life’, he said into a telephone receiver at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, a prison in West Livingston, Texas.
His case is just the latest drawing national attention as a possible wrongful conviction. Celebrities have lent their voices to those waiting in prisons to die, in the hopes of staying their executions so that authorities can re-examine their cases.
Kardashian has been among the more vocal in wanting to help Reed, speaking to him from jail and leveraging her resources as a celebrity to get him legal help to put off his November 20 execution.
The reality TV show star has already helped more than a dozen people win their freedom from prison. Kardashian, who is now aspiring to become a lawyer, drew significant attention last year for visiting with President Donald Trump at the White House and successfully advocating to secure a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson.
Johnson, a great-grandmother, had served more than 20 years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense before being released in June 2018.
Kim Kardashian (left), who is now aspiring to become a lawyer, drew significant attention last year for visiting with President Donald Trump at the White House and successfully advocating to secure a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson (right).
A tweet from rap artist and actor TI, noting when he signed an online petition calling on Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to stay death row inmate Rodney Reed’s upcoming execution on November 20
Rihanna was among celebrities who took to social media (pictured) urging people to sign an online petition asking Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to stay death row inmate Rodney Reed’s upcoming execution on November 20
Supporters who have embraced Reed’s claims have circulated an online petition signed by more than 1 million people who want Texas Governor Greg Abbot to stay the death row inmate’s execution.
Prosecutors had pointed to DNA evidence to secure Reed’s murder conviction in 1998.
However, Reed, who had been accused but not convicted in multiple other sexual assault cases, has argued that his DNA was found on Stites because they had been in a consensual relationship.
Reed acknowledges that when he first was confronted by police about Stites, that he denied knowing her. ‘That was the worst mistake I ever could have made, and I did not want to be incriminated, in relation to her death,’ he told NBC.
In arguing that Fennel was the real killer, Reed and his supporters have noted that the former cop was implicated by by a fellow inmate, Arthur J. Snow Jr.
Snow, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, in a sworn affidavit claims the former cop made a prison-yard confession admitting he killed Stites because she was cheating on him.
‘He was talking about his ex, and with a lot of hatred and resentment,’ Snow says in the affidavit, which DailyMail.com has obtained.
‘Jimmy said his fiance had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back,’ Snow further explains.
‘By the way Jimmy spoke about this experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him. Toward the end of the conversation Jimmy said confidentially, ‘had to kill my n*****-loving fiance,’ Snow says.
He adds that he believed Fennell made the reference in such a way in a bid to join the brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang and crime syndicate.
Fennell’s lawyer Robert Phillips has denied his client played a role in Stites’ death and was critical of Reed’s defense team for ‘the panoply of witnesses that keep coming out of the woodwork 20 years after the fact’, reports The Statesman.
‘It’s just plain ludicrous to buy into this Rodney Reed circus,’ Phillips told NBC.
Stites’ sister Debrao Oliver also stands by Fennell.
‘Never have we thought that Jimmy was guilty of murdering my sister,’ said Oliver, reports NBC.
Crystal Hefley, another sister, said the family prays ‘for the end to a nightmare we have had to relive over and over,’ reports NBC.
Attorney Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project, which works to reverse wrongful convictions, says it has ‘taken years and extraordinary effort’ to break through a bias which has held Reed back from pursuing his exoneration.
In addition to Snow’s sworn affidavit, three expert witnesses whose testimony helped secure Reed’s conviction admitted errors in their original statements, according to documents obtained by the Innocence Project.
The level of evidence that could be re-examined has given Reed hope he says.
‘I’m cautiously optimistic that something good has got to happen,’ he told NBC. ‘I mean, I’m a believer. You know? I’m a believer.’
Death Row inmate Rodney Reed is pictured waving to his family in the Bastrop County District Court Friday October 13. 2017. He says he’s now he’s ‘cautiously optimistic’, over his chances of delaying his execution and possibly being exonerated