Monday, April 23, 2007

Nifonged in Bastrop: Rodney Reed

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To: Court of Criminal Appeals

Rodney Reed: Innocent on Death Row

In 1998, Rodney Reed was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacy Stites in Bastrop, Texas. His habeas corpus appeal has been denied. But there is troubling evidence that Reed is innocent of this crime. And there was a pattern of police and prosecutorial misconduct that puts his conviction in doubt:

* Although semen found in Stites� body matched Reed�s DNA, witnesses were available to testify that Reed, a black man, was having an affair with Stites, a white woman. The jury never heard them. There is no evidence that he killed her.

* The chain of evidence was broken for DNA evidence that could have bolstered Reed�s claim of innocence. Shipping labels that DPS says were used to ship evidence to California for DNA testing by defense experts do not match shipping company records. Stites� body was missing for two hours on the night of the murder, showing up at the medical examiner�s office with new bruising.

* DNA that incriminates other suspects never made it to the defense. DNA evidence on two beer cans found near Stites� body match the DNA of Giddings Police officer David Hall (who had been Fennell�s partner) and Bastrop Police officer Ed Samela. The defense thinks that the police officers might have been involved in the murder with Stites� fianc�, Jimmy Fennell, Jr., a former Giddings police officer.

* Investigators never searched the Giddings apartment shared by Fennell and Stites, and returned Fennell�s pickup truck (which Stites had been driving the day of the murder) to him before doing a complete forensic analysis.

* Reed had an incompetent defense lawyer who did not call witnesses who could testify as to his relationship with Stites or provide Reed with an alibi for the time of the murder.

Having Reviewed the facts of Rodney Reed's case, I believe him to be an innocent man wrongly imprisoned. I call on the Sate of Texas to Grant Rodney a new trial, where the evidence of his innocence can finally be heard


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The Rodney Reed Petition to Court of Criminal Appeals was created by Campaign to End the Death Penalty 494-0667. and written by Jayson D, Thomas as a public service.

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