Lingering Questions

Serious questions remain about the state's case against Rodney Reed for the murder of Stacey Stites.

In 1998, Rodney Reed was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop County. Numerous questions remain about the certainty of Reed's guilt, the nature of the evidence against him, and the possibility that local authorities and state prosecutors ignored or mishandled evidence that might have pointed to other suspects.

Some of the most important questions:

  • Investigators apparently ignored or discounted evidence that suggested that Stites' fiancé, Jimmy Fennell Jr. (a Giddings Police officer, and former employee of the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office) may have been involved in the murder.

  • Although it was the last place she was seen alive, investigators failed to search the Giddings apartment shared by Fennell and Stites. They also returned Fennell's pickup truck to him before completing a forensic analysis -- although according to Fennell, the victim had been driving the truck the night of her death.

  • DNA evidence discovered at the crime scene and which might have implicated others -- including police officers acquainted with Fennell -- was apparently never provided to the defense for analysis, according to trial documents.

  • Inconsistencies in the records and the photographs of Stites' body suggest the strong possibility, at least, of mishandling of the body.

  • Witnesses who might have provided an alibi for Reed, or corroborated his claim of an affair with Stites, were not heard during the evidentiary phase of his original trial. Furthermore, the affidavit of James Robertson, who also claimed he knew of the relationship between Reed and Stites, was not made a part of Reed's state habeas appeal.
    • More of the Story

    • Breaking the Chain

      Troubling questions persist in the Rodney Reed / Stacey Stites murder case.
    • David Fisher, Butt-inski

      A profile of David Fisher, volunteer sleuth in the Rodney Reed murder case

    A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

    Support the Chronicle  

    READ MORE
    More by Jordan Smith
    'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
    'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
    Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

    May 22, 2014

    APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
    APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
    Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

    May 9, 2014

    KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

    Rodney Reed, Stacey Stites, Jimmy Fennell Jr., James Robertson, Bastrop County, homicide, DNA evidence

    MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
    NEWSLETTERS
    One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

    Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

    Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

    Austin's queerest news and events

    Updates for SXSW 2019

    All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

    Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle