Rodney Reed's Lawyers Request Withdrawal of November Execution Date

Two new witnesses have come forward with additional information

Matters are accelerating in the case of Rodney Reed, convicted of killing Stacy Stites in 1998 and scheduled for execution on November 20.

Reed’s lawyers filed a motion in Bastrop County District Court on Friday, Oct. 4, asking the court to withdraw Reed’s execution date so they can investigate new evidence of innocence – separate from what’s currently awaiting review by the Supreme Court.

The filing in Bastrop includes affidavits from two new witnesses who have come forward with new information on Jimmy Fennell, Stites’ fiancé at the time of her murder and the only other suspect in the case. The first witness tells of signing up Stites for life insurance as Fennell stands beside them. Stites wonders aloud why she should get life insurance because she’s so young (she was 19 at the time of her murder). The affidavit reads, “In response to that comment, Jim, in my presence, told her ‘If I ever catch you messing around on me, I will kill you and no one will ever know it was me that killed you.’ I remember it well because of the tone of voice that he used. It was not presented as a joke.”

Fennell’s statement would be highly relevant as Reed alleges that he and Stites had been having a secret affair, which would explain the presence of his semen in her dead body – the only evidence connecting him to the grisly 1996 murder. Prosecutors at the trial dismissed his claim of an affair; it would have destroyed their case.

In the second affidavit, Fennell is attending Stites’ funeral with a colleague in the Giddings Police Department. As the two gaze down at Stites in the coffin, Fennell speaks. “At that moment,” says Fennell’s colleague, “Jimmy said something that I will never forget. Jimmy said something along the lines of, ‘You got what you deserved.’ Jimmy was directing his comment at Ms. Stites’s body. I was completely shocked and floored by what Jimmy said.”

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The Chronicle has covered Rodney Reed’s case for nearly 20 years. For more, visit our Rodney Reed archive.

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Death Watch, Rodney Reed, Stacey Stites, Jimmy Fennell

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