Texas man who is a death row inmate since 1998 for the rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in 1996, was scheduled to be executed on November 20. But according to latest reports, his impending execution was halted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal on Friday.
Earlier, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Gov. Greg Abbott grant a 120-day reprieve to the man named Rodney Reed, reported CNN. The case has garnered widespread support from lawmakers, celebrities and public. An online clemency petition for Reed was signed over 2.9 million times.
The case in which Reed-a-black Texas man was convicted for the rape and murder of Stites-a-white woman, by an all-white jury, had got traction amid new pieces of evidence that hint at Reed's innocence. One of the reasons, this case has caught the public's attention is because the man has garnered support from high-profile celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Rihanna. There are 215 others, sentenced to be executed in Texas.
Reed has maintained that he doesn't want pardon, but a re-trial, so that he can prove his innocence.
19-year old Stacy Stites was found strangulated with her own belt on afternoon of April 23. Upon investigation, a small amount of sperm cells-3 in total, were found in her vagina. The DNA matched with that of Reeds, whose samples were already with the police in a different sexual assault case for which he was never convicted. Though he earlier maintained that he didn't know Stites, but later revealed that he was in a relationship with her.
The whole case against Reed was based on the semen samples, as neither the murder weapon nor the vehicle she drove was investigated. Though Reed maintained that the two had a consensual relationship, the prosecutors and expert witnesses argued that sperm wouldn't stay in Stacy's body for so long.
This is how he was implicated for rape. One of the medical experts, who was an expert witness, has put out a statement that he is now aware that sperm can stay intact for days and hence there is no evidence that the two had anything other than consensual sex.
Jimmy Fennel-Stacey Stite's fiance
Stites was due to be married to Jimmy Fennel, a white former policeman, who had served years in prison in a sexual assault case and was released in 2018.
Witnesses have come forward describing the couple's relationship. A woman gave a statement about him saying that if his girlfriend ever cheated on him, he would strangle her. Another man remembers Fennell threatening to kill his fiance, if he caught her "messing around" with someone else.
A policeman in a statement said that on Stite's funeral, Fennell while looking at her body said something about her getting what she deserved. Arthur Snow, leader of a white supremacist prison gang, who was in prison with him, claimed that Fennell told him about his fiance sleeping with a black man behind his back. Fennell has meanwhile maintained his innocence and asked why the witnesses have arrived years after the incident.