A campaign to release Rodney Reed, an inmate scheduled to be put to death in just 15 days, has helped a petition garner over a million signatures and gained the support of a slew of prominent celebrities including Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Meek Mill and Gigi Hadid.
Today, 26 Texas legislators have responded with an emergency letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, urging him to postpone Reed's execution until "new developments of his case are fully resolved."
Rodney Reed has spent over 20 years in prison for the 1996 rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. Reed maintains his innocence to this day, and a recently obtained affidavit has revealed that another prison inmate claims that the victim's fiancé at the time, Jimmy Fennell, admitted to murdering her. This in combination with Dr. Phil's recent television special on the case, which exposed multiple inconsistencies and outright failures of the trial to millions, has lead to an insurgence of outrage.
Stacey Stites was found dead in a wooded area in Bastrop, Texas and initially, the primary suspect in the case was her fiancé -- a police officer with a history of violence towards women named Jimmy Fennell. However, the investigation quickly shifted towards Rodney Reed -- despite Fennell failing two lie detector tests directly asking if he murdered his fiancé -- because Reed's DNA was found on Stites' body. Reed testified that he had been in an ongoing consensual sexual relationship with Stites -- a claim that has now been corroborated by multiple others who knew her -- but he was found guilty of her rape and murder, and sentenced to death.
Multiple journalists, lawyers, and crime specialist have looked into Rodney Reed's case over the years and found that the trial overlooked or omitted key evidence and witness testimony. The Innocence Project also produced evidence from forensic pathologists concluding it is both scientifically and medically impossible that Reed committed the crime.
However, what is perhaps most damning is the recently filed affidavit from former inmate Arthur Snow, who met Fennell in prison. Fennell was seeking protection from the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, which Snow was a part of. Snow claims he heard Fennell gloat about killing his fiancé, saying: 'I had to kill my n*****- loving fiancé.'
Multiple celebrities are speaking out against Reed's imprisonment and execution. Kim Kardashian tweeted:
Rihanna, Meek Mill, Gigi Hadid, T.I., Questlove, and more also lended their voices on Twitter:
TMZ reports that Kim Kardashian is also lobbying behind the scenes and has spoken with Reed directly.