Appeals Court Stays Reed Execution – KEYE TV
Updated: Monday, February 23 2015, 05:38 PM CST
Feb. 23 UPDATE: Rodney Reed’s execution date was stayed Monday afternoon by the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, according to Reed’s attorney.
Reed’s execution was set for March 5 for the murder and rape of Stacy Stites in Bastrop County.
Reed’s legal team had appealed to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, citing new evidence in the case. In the court’s order, they wrote, “In this application, applicant asserts that he has newly discovered evidence that supports his claim that he is actually innocent, that new scientific evidence establishes his probable innocence.”
The court orders Reed’s execution stayed, pending further order of the court.
About four hours east of Bastrop, in the small town of Livingston, is a maximum security prison better known as death row.
For the past 17 years, it’s been Rodney Reed’s home. He spends about 22 hours each day in a cell, clinging to hope and maintaining his innocence.
“It’s not just what I’m going through, it’s what my family is going through,” Reed said. “I kind of get emotional when I think about what’s going on with them.”
At the moment, Reed said a radio is his only contact with the world.
As the days tick down on his life, he can’t see the countless protests and vigils calling for his freedom taking place across the state.
The only updates come when family members see him through the glass.
“My baby boy, he tells me that he has faith,” said Reed. “I have to hold on, I have to hold onto that.”
Reed is scheduled to be executed March 5. A Bastrop jury convicted him nearly two decades ago for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacy Stites.
“I try not to entertain what the state is trying to do to me, I don’t want to entertain it,” Reed said.
But on Wednesday he was forced to.
Reed said that before his interview with KEYE TV he was told to complete paperwork for the state identifying which of his family members could be in the room when he’s executed. It also outlines what to do with his remains.
KEYE TV asked Reed if he thinks it’s possible the state will put him to death.
“I think that it’s possible,” he said. “I hope that they don’t, but it’s possible that they will.”
Reed says he has known others on death row who have left and never come back, and he knows the routine, but it’s not something he wants to focus on.
“I have to treat every day the same,” he said. “I mean I’m not going to curl up in a corner — nothing like that — and stare at the celling all day. I’m going to continue to listen to my music, continue to read and continue to be me.”
Reed also knows, as have others before him who have also maintained their innocence, that you can return from the brink.
At the moment Rodney Reed’s fate rests with the courts and Governor Greg Abbott.
While campaigning for governor, Abbott spoke to KEYE TV in 2014 on his position on the death penalty in general, saying, “I want to ensure sure that it’s administered with absolute fairness and justice.”
Abbott said, “I led the advancement in this last session to ensure we would have broad-based DNA testing in any death penalty case. If the death penalty is going to be imposed we must be sure that the person who receives the death penalty really did commit the crime.”
But at each recent hearing, the state consistently fought against additional DNA testing, along with new testing for evidence that’s never been through the process, including the belt used to strangle Stites.
Reed’s attorneys believe the state is ready to move forward with the execution, rather than admit the possibility that the new findings and testimony in Reed’s defense show he’s innocent.
“What the state is trying to do here, in our view, is rush the execution date before we can get to the evidence that establishes Mr. Reed’s evidence,” said Reed’s attorney Andrew MacRae.
Their latest appeal argues new forensic evidence, from three renowned forensic pathologists, which they say shows it’s impossible for Rodney Reed to be guilty.
There are also affidavits from two of Stites’ coworkers saying they kncew Reed and Stites were in a relationship. It would back up the story Reed has been telling since his conviction.
“I’ve been in this fight, this struggle that long. I’m not giving up — not my hope, not my faith,” Reed said.
For now he waits, spending the majority of his time reading, thinking about family and supporters, and glancing at pictures.
“I look in their eyes, I look at their smiles, and I see the love,” he said.
With lingering questions, did the state get it right or will an innocent man run out of time?
KEYE TV reached out to the office of the Governor and Attorney General for a comment on this case, but have not heard back.
Appeals Court Stays Rodney Reeds Execution