Kim Kardashian, Rihanna among celebrities urging Texas Governor Greg Abbot to stop execution of Rodney Reed
The 51-year-old is set to be executed on November 20 after being convicted of the 1996 sexual assault and murder of then-19-year-old Stacey Stites.
Several celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, have urged Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stop the execution of Rodney Reed, an African American who has claimed innocence in the murder of a white woman.
The 51-year-old is set to be executed on November 20 after being convicted of the 1996 sexual assault and murder of then-19-year-old Stacey Stites. Last week, The Innocence Project, which is part of Reed's legal team, filed for a commutation of his sentence and called for a new hearing in the case “in light of the grave doubt concerning his guilt.”
Lawyers representing Reed say there is mounting evidence to prove their client's innocence and instead points to Jimmy Fennell, Stites’ fiancé at the time, as a person of interest in her murder, HuffPost reports.
PLEASE @GovAbbott How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 19, 2019
Fennell, a former cop, pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman he had in custody in 2007, and spent 10 years in prison for the same.
Reed's lawyers have claimed a former prisoner and leader of the Aryan Brotherhood who was imprisoned with Fennell said last week that Fennell told him his fiancée “had been sleeping around with a Black man” and that he was planning to kill his “ni**er loving fiancée.”
During Reed's trial, the key evidence against him was the DNA of his semen collected from Stites' body. However, Reed claimed he was in a consensual sexual relationship with the woman at the time of her death.
That said, Reed's lawyers are now pushing for a DNA test of the murder weapon and have highlighted the fact that multiple expert witnesses have since recanted their testimony.
Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Innocence Project, told HuffPost that Reed asks ”only for commutation because he wants to be vindicated in court, so that a jury of his peers can hear all of the evidence in his case."
“Anyone who looks at the evidence fairly will understand that the wrong man was sent to death row for this murder,” Benjet said.
Among other celebrities in support of Reed are actors Janelle Monae and Yara Shahidi. Besides, over 1 million people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Abbot to stop Reed's execution.