Rodney Reed Hearing Set for October

Death row case may hinge on deposition of former sheriff’s deputy

Rodney Reed
Rodney Reed (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Rodney Reed is due in a Bastrop County court Oct. 10-14, for a hearing intended to clear up just how Jimmy Fennell Jr. spent his time on the April 1996 night that his fiancée Stacey Stites was murdered. Reed, who says he was having an affair with Stites at the time of her brutal slaying, was convicted of capital murder in 1998, and has spent the time since on death row. (He's already narrowly avoided execution more than once.) But Fennell – who's also in prison, serving a 10-year sentence for raping a woman while he held her in custody as an officer in Georgetown's police department – was originally a suspect in the murder, and has long been scrutinized for certain inconsistencies in his account of the night in question. (Reed's attorneys have spent years trying to get certain items of evidence tested for DNA profiles that could implicate Fennell in the murder.) Last June, after producers for the CNN show Death Row Stories contacted Reed's legal team about a conversation they had with Curtis Davis, a former Bastrop County sher­iff's deputy and Fennell's best friend in the late 1990s, attorneys filed a motion to depose Davis under oath ("Death Watch," June 24, 2016). Reed's attorneys were only read a portion of the interview transcripts, and their filing is based on that dictation, but their argument hinges on the revelation that Fennell told Davis the morning after Stites' murder that he spent the evening before drinking beer outside of a Little League practice – a stark contrast to his official statement: that he spent the night at home with Stites. The Court of Criminal Appeals remanded the motion to the district court in May, putting it in the hands of Judge Carson Campbell in October.

This story has been updated to clarify that Fennell was a police officer with the Georgetown Police Department when he was sentenced to prison, not the Giddings Police Department.

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Rodney Reed, Stacey Stites, Jimmy Fennell Jr., Curtis Davis, Carson Campbell

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