Unconscionable Execution

RECEIVED Thu., Sept. 19, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Death Watch: Mark Soliz Hopes One Stay Leads to Another” [News, Sept. 6]: While several Texas death row inmates are rightfully fighting for stays of execution based on mental disability, Rodney Reed, who is scheduled to be executed on November 20, deserves a stay based on both proof of his innocence and major mishaps in Bastrop County’s investigation. The state continues to refuse to allow DNA testing of the belt used to strangulate Stacey Stites, the murder victim whom Reed is accused of murdering in 1996. At Reed’s original trial, his defense never calls Reed’s alibi witness during the trial. Roberto Bayardo, the medical examiner, was the only witness whose testimony tied Reed to the murder. Yet Bayardo later recanted his testimony after three renowned forensic pathologists testified that Reed could not have murdered Stites.
    The sheriff’s department never searched the apartment where Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, lived. After Stites’ murder, Fennell himself was convicted of kidnapping and rape of a woman in his custody while serving as a police officer. The prosecution also suppressed contradictory evidence of testimony from Fennell about his whereabouts the night of the murder.
    This may already be another of the many tragic cases in which someone who is likely innocent has spent far too many years, over 20, on death row. Without a full and proper investigation, the state has no basis on which to execute Reed. It is unconscionable that Texas is moving forward on this execution when there are so many unanswered questions.
Claire Elizabeth Closmann
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