SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has written a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and the chairman of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles urging them to stop the execution of a Texas death row inmate.
Rodney Reed is scheduled to be executed Nov. 20 for the killing of a 19-year-old woman in Central Texas.
Reed was found guilty of raping and killing Stacey Stites in April 1996. Reed denies that he killed Stites, and claims that her fiance, Jimmy Fennell, a former police officer, killed her because Stites was having an affair with Reed, who is black. Fennell is white.
The death row inmate's attorneys also point out that an all-white jury convicted Reed.
Reed’s attorneys in recent weeks have presented affidavits, including one by a former prison inmate, who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur. Reed’s lawyers said other recent affidavits corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed.
A federal lawsuit filed by Reed’s lawyers is pending to force DNA testing of crime scene evidence. Reed’s lawyers said the testing, which has been fought for years by prosecutors, could identify someone else as the murderer.
But prosecutors said Reed’s semen was found in the victim, his claims of an affair with Stites were not proven at trial, Fennell was cleared as a suspect, and Reed had a history of committing other sexual assaults.
But Gonzales, in his letter, said he wants the investigation to continue.
"Many people have reached out to urge you to grant a reprieve to Rodney Reed. I write to add my voice to theirs," Gonzales said in his letter. "We should not execute any person when there are unresolved doubts about their guilt.
"There are simply too many unanswered questions surrounding the Rodney Reed case to continue forward with a November 20th execution. I do not know if Rodney Reed is guilty or innocent, but the harm done by executing a potentially innocent man is immeasurable. There is no harm in taking our time to ensure we get it right. Please use your power to halt this execution."
Reed’s efforts to stop his execution have received support from such celebrities as Rihanna, Dr. Phil and Kim Kardashian West.