Just days away from death by lethal injection, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped Rodney Reed’s scheduled execution.
The news comes hours after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously recommended Texas Gov. Greg Abbott delay Reed’s execution.
“Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted #RodneyReed an indefinite stay of execution, meaning he no longer has an execution date,” the nonprofit Innocence Project, which has been representing Reed, tweeted on Friday (Nov. 15).
Friday’s ruling was also posted to the Court of Criminal Appeals’ website.
“We are extremely relieved and thankful that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has issued a stay of execution for our client Rodney Reed,” read a statement by the Innocence Project. “The CCA has ordered the claims of Brady violations, false testimony and actual innocence in Mr. Reed’s case back to the trial court. This opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr. Reed’s innocence.”
Reed’s execution was slated for November 20, 2019.
This comes as great news for Reed and his family, who has long proclaimed his innocence in the 1996 rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
Investigators reportedly suspected Stites’ then-fiancé, former police officer Jimmy Fennell as the culprit. Stites was strangled with her own belt and her dead body was left in a wooded area. Reed was convicted more than 20 years ago, by an all-white Texas jury, after his DNA was found inside Stites.
In the 1998 case, Reed claimed he had been having a consensual sexual relationship with Stites, which was why his DNA was in her vaginal cavity.
New witnesses have since come forward, including the victim's cousin and coworker, who were allegedly aware of Reed’s romantic relationship with Stites. There are also reports that witnesses now say Fennell confessed to having “to kill my [n-word]-loving fiancée.”
Forensic scientists have also declared it’s scientifically impossible that Reed was the murderer, according to the DNA. In addition, the murder weapon was never tested for DNA.
With news that Fennell failed two lie detector tests during the investigation and was not honest about his whereabouts on the night of Stites’ death, Reed’s case regained national attention with celebrities and more than 2.9 million petitioners believing the death row inmate was railroaded.
"So grateful for the commitment and passion of everyone who voiced their support, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for their recommendation to issue a 120-day reprieve, and the courts for issuing a stay," Kardashian-West tweeted on Friday.
West has been very vocal about her belief that Reed is “innocent.”
West visited Reed at the prison on Friday.
“Today, I had the honor of meeting #RodneyReed in person and the privilege of sitting with him when he got the news that the highest court in Texas had issued a stay of execution and remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration,” West wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. “Words cannot describe the relief and hope that swept over the room in that moment. That hope had been building over the last few weeks around Rodney’s case.”
“Today, we rejoice. Tomorrow, we keep working to prove #RodneyReed's innocence,” the Innocence Project tweeted. “Stay involved.”
The Innocence Project, was founded in 1992 to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and to bring reform to the criminal justice system.