Friday, December 19, 2008

"A Great Injustice" in the Rodney Reed Case

Court of Criminal Appeals Denies Relief

Reed’s Supporters Plan Protest for Monday, December 22, 2008. At 5:30 pm at the Capitol, 11th and Congress.

THE TEXAS Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday denied relief in the case of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed, as his family members and supporters decried the ruling.

Sandra Reed, Reed’s mother, responded to the court's decision by saying, "A great injustice has been done today. I looked to the Court to consider all the new developments. And with all these developments how could they deny my son?"

Reed was accused of raping and murdering of Stacey Stites in 1996, and was convicted and sentenced to death on 1998. Reed is an African-American man, Stites a white woman. A number of witnesses have corroborated Reed’s claim that he and Stites were having a consensual sexual relationship, although these witnesses were not called to the stand during his trial.

Much of the evidence presented by the defense, both new and old, points toward another suspect: former Georgetown police officer Jimmy Fennell. Fennell’s recent conviction on sexual assault and kidnapping charges further substantiates the defense's theory.

Fennell was engaged to Stites at the time of her death. He failed two lie detector tests when asked "Did you strangle Stacey Stites?" Fennell's truck, which Stites was driving at the time, contained only her and Fennell's fingerprints.

This and a vast array of other forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony, alibi witnesses, etc. is outlined in the court's decision. However the Court deemed the evidence presented by the defense as unreliable, while considering most the evidence presented by the prosecution as wholly reliable.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), recently the subject of much public criticism, acted on the recommendation of Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett, who presided over 2006 hearings in Bastrop on the case and is the daughter of the judge in Reed’s original trial. Many observers of the hearings, which were mandated by the CCA, noted a bias towards the State and the original conviction.

“This is one-sided justice at its worst,” said Lily Hughes of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. “Rodney deserves a new trial.”

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the family of Rodney Reed plans to continue our grassroots campaign for justice for Rodney Reed, including protests, petitions and more. We will continue to pressure any and all courts and public officials involved in this case to grant a new trial where evidence of Reed’s innocence can be presented.

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