The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday granted inmate Rodney Reed a stay of execution, less than one week before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
Reed, who’s spent more than 20 years in prison for the 1996 sexual assault and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites, has long maintained his innocence, but was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday. Reed's legal team filed an application for clemency on Nov. 11 claiming that he is innocent, that the state suppressed evidence in his case and violated due process by presenting false testimony, and that he was given ineffective counsel, the according to court documents.
Friday’s order says that three of those four claims — the allegations regarding the suppression of evidence, false testimony, and Reed’s claims of innocence — satisfy the requirements needed for their recommendation that “those claims [be remanded] to the trial court for further development.”
“Applicant’s execution is stayed pending further order of this Court,” the ruling reads.
The court’s decision came the same day that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Reed have his execution delayed for 120 days, according to The Hill.
Reed, a black man, has maintained that he and Stites, a white woman, were in a consensual relationship, which is why his semen was found in her body after her death. Reed’s legal team has claimed that not only is Reed innocent, but another party — Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell — killed Stites and bragged about the murder while serving prison time for an unrelated offense, with Fennell allegedly telling another inmate that he’d “had to kill [his] n*****- loving fiancée,” CNN reports. Fennell’s lawyer has denied those claims on his behalf.
Reed’s story has garnered much attention in recent months, with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Meek Mill all joining his cause. Hundreds of his supporters gathered on Saturday for a rally outside the home of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, calling for Reed’s execution to be halted.
Speaking to CBS Austin on Saturday, Reed’s mother, Sandra Reed, reacted to news that her son’s execution had been put on hold.
“I am so happy. I am one ... happy, happy mother,” she told the station.
“We had witnesses that were intimidated but now it’s a new day. Twenty years or more have passed and things are changing, and I think this case will bring about a change. The truth will and shall set him free,” she added.
The Innocence Project, the nonprofit organization representing Reed, thanked their supporters on Friday, writing on Twitter, “Thank you to all who called, tweeted, and spoke out against the execution of an innocent person. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we keep working to prove #RodneyReed's innocence.”
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