Supreme Court to hear appeal of death row prisoner Rodney Reid in Texas

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear the appeal of a Texas death sentence by a black man who maintains his innocence and whose case has attracted the attention of celebrities, lawmakers and millions of Americans. rodney reedThe 54-year-old was indicted by a white jury in 1998 for the rape and murder of 19-year-old white woman Stacey Stites.

Reid has spent decades on the death row after being sentenced to death in the murder of Stites in Bastrop, Texas, but the state’s highest court issued an adjournment a few days before its scheduled execution in November 2019. As the date of his execution neared, the matter received national attention,

Traces of his sperm were found on the victim’s body, but Reid insists he is innocent of the 1996 murder and that he and Stites had a secret consensual relationship.

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court will not examine Reed’s sentencing during an oral debate on Tuesday, but has a narrow technical question related to procedural issues.

The nine-member court’s ruling, which will be delivered before June 30, could allow Reid’s case to be reopened – or pave the way for his execution by lethal injection.

Supporters of Reid believe that evidence collected after the trial points to another suspect, States fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a disgraced police officer who later pleaded guilty to 10 counts of kidnapping and rape in the line of duty. sentenced to one year in prison.

Stacy Stites, left, and Rodney Reed, right

CBS Austin

A fellow prisoner says that Fennell confessed to her that he killed Stites because she was sleeping with a black man.

Fennell has denied any involvement in the murder of Stites, but police initially considered him a suspect.

“I know the truth is about to come out,” Fennell said last year, CBS Austin reported, “I’m on Stacy’s side.”

Texas prosecutors claimed during Reid’s trial that he sexually assaulted several other women before killing Stites.

His execution was put on hold just five days before it was done in 2019 after a campaign involving the reality star Kim KardashianTexas lawmakers including singers Rihanna and Beyonce, and Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Two petitions seeking to halt Reid’s execution circulated on the Internet, garnering more than 3.5 million signatures.

To prove his innocence, Reid asked Texas officials in 2014 to conduct new DNA analysis on the murder weapon, a belt used to strangle Stites.

His appeal for a DNA test was repeatedly denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, so Reid turned to the federal courts.

But he refused to intervene on the grounds that the request came too late, after a two-year window stopped allowing the state court to challenge the decision in federal court.

The question before the Supreme Court is when does the window open?

Texas says it begins with the first state court ruling. Reed says it’s from the last one.

Reid’s lawyers are also arguing that it is unconstitutional to impose a statute of limitations on when a DNA test can be performed.

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