Appeal for Reed?

On March 6, Texas Defender Service Deputy Director Greg Wiercioch confirmed that the agency is close to deciding whether it will take up death-row inmate Rodney Reed's defense as the case wends its way through the federal appeals system. The news pleased Reed's family and friends. "We are very excited," said Reed's mother Sandra. "We've been hoping for a good attorney for a long time."

Reed was convicted and sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop County, but lingering questions cast doubt over his guilt. Unresolved matters involve DNA evidence that was never presented at Reed's trial, possible prosecutorial misconduct, and suppression of evidence (see "Breaking the Chain," March 1). The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Reed's state habeas appeal Feb. 13, potentially crippling Reed's chance of finding relief in the federal courts. Wiercioch said he could not talk specifically about Reed's case, but added, "There are always things that can be done. There are always avenues to pursue."

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