Supporters of Rodney Reed call to overturn conviction

It's been nearly two decades since Rodney Reed was found guilty in the murder of Stacey Stites - a conviction that remains shrouded in controversy.

It's been nearly two decades since Rodney Reed was found guilty in the murder of Stacey Stites, a conviction that has continued to face legal challenges. 

Stites was a 19-year-old Giddings resident back in April of 1996, when she didn't show up to her early-morning shift at a local grocery store. 

Her body was found on the side of a rural road in Bastrop County after police say she was strangled.

Friday, a group of people gathered in Austin to press authorities, saying her killer has not been held responsible. 

"We think there's enough evidence gathered over the years to show over the years that he is innocent of this crime," said Nellie Hughes, who organized the event. 

She said she's been working on the case for nearly two decades, oftentimes alongside Reed's family. 

"It's our experience that when things happen without anyone paying attention or any notice they can move through the courts very quickly," Hughes said. 

About two dozen supporters gathered at in.gredients in Austin for a Happy Hour letter writing session. They each penned three letters - one to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, one to Bastrop District Attorney Bryan Goertz and one to Governor Greg Abbott.  

"Often the courts might not take the time to really examine things as closely as we think they should have. There have well over 100 people exonerated off of death row in the United States in the last several years," said Hughes.

"I'm writing on behalf of Bastrop death row inmate Rodney Reed. I believe Rodney Reed is innocent of the murder for which he was convicted," Azzurra Crispino explained. 

Execution dates have been delayed multiple times, with a current stay in place indefinitely. 

Reed's defense has contested the timeline of the murder, testimony that was later disavowed. 

They have also argued that evidence pointing to a separate suspect, Jimmy Fennell - the victim's fiance and himself a  police officer - was withheld. 

Fennell is currently in jail on charges of kidnapping and improper sexual conduct stemming from an incident while he was on duty as a police officer in Georgetown. 

While the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Reed's plea to re-test DNA earlier this year, a hearing in a Bastrop County Court is set for October to re-consider testimony provided in the original case. 

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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