Death row inmate Rodney Reed’s time is running out, and now some fear an innocent man may die if his November execution goes ahead as scheduled.
Reed has spent almost 23 years on death row for killing 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
On April 23, 1996, bride-to-be Stites’ body was found on the side of a road in rural Texas. DNA from semen found on Stites eventually pointed to now-52-year-old Reed, leading to his arrest and conviction for murder.
Reed, who is scheduled to be put to death in just weeks, has insisted cops got the case wrong and he is innocent of killing Stites, who he was having an affair with behind her fiancé Jimmy Fennell’s back.
In a new episode of Dr. Phil, the talk show host visits Reed in prison to discuss the case’s newest evidence, which Reed insists will clear him.
Reed’s lawyers recently filed a motion in Bastrop County District Court, requesting the court withdraw the prisoner’s execution date so they can look deeper into the latest evidence to emerge in the troubling case.
According to the court filing, two new witnesses have come forward with potentially bombshell new information.
The first witness said the only other suspect in the case, Stites’ fiancé, Fennell, was with the murder victim when she signed up for life insurance not long before her death. During the incident, according to the witness, Stites questioned why she needed insurance since she was still so young.
“In response to that comment, Jim, in my presence, told her ‘If I ever catch you messing around on me, I will kill you and no one will ever know it was me that killed you.’ I remember it well because of the tone of voice that he used. It was not presented as a joke,” the witness noted in the affidavit.
The second witness, one of Fennell’s colleagues at the Giddings Police Department who attended Stites funeral with him, cast more doubt on Reed’s conviction in a second affidavit.
Staring at Stites casket, Fennell made a disturbing statement, according to the colleague.
“At that moment,” said the witness in the affidavit, “Jimmy said something that I will never forget. Jimmy said something along the lines of, ‘You got what you deserved.’ Jimmy was directing his comment at Ms. Stites’s body. I was completely shocked and floored by what Jimmy said.”
Despite the two new witnesses, Robert Phillips, the lawyer who represented Fennell for his 2007 conviction for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while he was a police officer, played down the new evidence that could possibly free Reed.
“This is) another desperate attempt from desperate lawyers to save a guilty man who has tried and failed innumerable times to appeal his conviction with frivolous claims,” Phillips said.
For more on the case and Reed’s last-ditch bid for freedom, tune in to the Dr. Phil show on Thursday, Oct. 10.