Posted on Jun 30, 2023
On June 28, 2023, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) denied Rodney Reed’s (pictured) application for habeas relief and rejected Mr. Reed’s claim that prosecutors at his 1998 trial illegally presented false testimony and withheld exculpatory evidence that could have exonerated him. His case gained international attention in 2019 when a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Republican Governor Abbot to stop his execution. Throughout his incarceration, he has continued to maintain his innocence.
In 1998, he was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to death in 1998 for allegedly murdering Stacey Stites. Mr. Reed’s attorneys filed a successor Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus asking the TCCA and Bastrop County district court to vacate his conviction and death sentence before his scheduled execution. On November 15, 2019, the TCCA stayed his scheduled November 20 execution and remanded his case to the Bastrop County district court to review his Brady, false testimony, and actual innocence claims. Despite the new evidence of innocence presented at the evidentiary hearing in July 2021, the court did not render impartial findings of fact and conclusions of law and found every witness called by Mr. Reed to be non-credible. Prior to the evidentiary hearing, the prosecutors revealed that friends and co-workers of Ms. Stites told police, before Mr. Reed’s trial, that Mr. Reed and Ms. Stites were involved a romantic relationship. At trial, the prosecutors falsely told the jury that evidence of a relationship did not exist and illegally suppressed statements from Ms. Stites’s neighbors about loud domestic violence arguments between Ms. Stites and Mr. Fennell. On April 19, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Reed v. Goertz and ruled that Mr. Reed timely filed his challenge to the State’s postconviction DNA testing statute.
In a statement released by the Innocence Project, Mr. Reed’s attorney, Jane Pucher, commented, “For 23 years, Texas illegally hid evidence that could have exonerated Rodney Reed. He is an innocent man. Texans should be outraged that prosecutorial misconduct is going unchecked and the State is being given a license to cheat – even if it means sending an innocent man to his death.”
Jolie Mccullough, Texas’ highest criminal court emphatically rejects death row inmate Rodney Reed’s claim of innocence, The Texas Tribune, June 28, 2023.
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