AUSTIN, Texas — The execution date is getting closer for Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, and his attorneys are expected to make a last-ditch effort to force DNA testing.
Reed was found guilty for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop County. Reed and his supporters have maintained his innocence, saying key evidence, such as the murder weapon, has never been tested for DNA.
As Reed's Nov. 20 execution date approaches, he is receiving more and more support from people, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna, as well as local religious leaders, who are all asking that Governor Greg Abbott stopped the execution.
On Tuesday, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of the Diocese of Austin pleaded for Reed's execution to be halted. Vásquez claims that there are enough doubts in this case that it deserves a careful review of the new witnesses and evidence. He agreed with the bipartisan support from Texas legislators urging the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to postpone Reed's execution until the new evidence has been examined.
"If the scheduled execution of Mr. Reed proceeds, there is great risk the State of Texas will execute a man who is innocent of this crime while allowing the guilty party to go free," Vásquez said. "My prayers remain with the family of Stacey Stites and all murder victims' families. I continue to pray for healing and justice for all who have been touched by this tragedy."
Just last week, a group of Texas pastors gathered at a local church to ask Gov. Abbott to stop Reed's execution.
The group met at the Greater Mount Zion Church in East Austin on Oct. 29. Those who spoke and provided their reasoning as to why Gov. Abbott should stop the execution were Pastor Gaylon Clark (Greater Mount Zion), Pastor Joseph Parker (David Chapel Baptist Church), Sherwynn Patton (Life Anew), Pastor Aaron Reyes (Hope Community Church), and John Nolley (Innocence Project).
Pastor Clark expressed that there are a few things about the case they find "particularly concerning." Some of these concerns included:
- The murder weapon has never been tested for DNA evidence in spite of repeated calls for it to be done.
- The State's forensic experts admitted on record that the original time of death is inaccurate.
"No one should be executed when there is reasonable or even possible evidence of their evidence," Pastor Clark said. "Let the evidence take us where it leads."
"On Nov. 9, there will also be a gathering at the Governor's Mansion that the Reed family will hold," said Patton, the program director of Life Anew. "We're asking if the governor has not stopped the execution at that time, at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9, will we ask again that the governor stop the execution."
On Oct. 28, 13 law enforcement officers filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, calling for the court to consider new evidence in Reed's case.
Williamson County Constable Deke Pierce said executing Reed goes against what he and the others believe as officers of the law.
The officers added that Reed's case appeared tainted by bad science, weak facts and tunnel vision by investigators.
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