New Witnesses Come Forward in Support of Rodney Reed’s Innocence
10.07.19 By Innocence Staff
Signed affidavits add to the mounting evidence against victim’s fiancé, Jimmy Fennell.
(Bastrop, TX – October 4, 2019) Today, attorneys for Rodney Reed filed a motion requesting the withdrawal of his execution date of November 20, 2019, based on new evidence that has come to light in recent weeks. Two witnesses who knew Jimmy Fennell, the victim Stacey Stites’s fiancé, at the time of the murder have come forward with information which both supports the already substantial evidence of Reed’s innocence and establishes a violation of Due Process under Brady v. Maryland. In order to further investigate this newly discovered evidence, the withdrawal of the impending execution date is required under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Reed has been on death row for over 21 years for Stites’s 1996 murder which he maintains he did not commit.
The petition filed today is based on two affidavits providing testimony from an insurance salesperson who stated that Fennell threatened to kill Stites while applying for life insurance. The second witness is Jim Clampit, a Deputy in the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murder, who Fennell made an alarming and inculpatory statement to at Stites’s funeral regarding Stites’s body. This new evidence could not have been discovered or presented in any of Reed’s prior pleadings and supports his actual innocence. Therefore, Reed’s legal team has asked the Bastrop County District Court to withdraw his execution date so they can fully investigate and present this new evidence of innocence.
In the 21 years since Reed’s trial, there is substantial evidence that both exonerates Reed and implicates Stites’s fiancé, Jimmy Fennell. Forensic experts who implicated Reed at trial have recanted their opinions, and leading forensic pathologists have concluded that the State’s theory of Reed’s guilt is medically and scientifically impossible. New witnesses have come forward, including Stites’s cousin, who was aware that Reed and Stites were romantically involved. Fennell’s best friend at the time, Bastrop Sheriff’s Officer Curtis Davis has now revealed that Fennell gave an inconsistent account of where he was on the night of the murder. Fennell, who was recently released after serving a 10-year prison term for a sex crime, had told his friend he had been out drinking on the night Stites was murdered. He later claimed he was with Stites in their apartment during the time that we now know was the actual time of her death, based on updated expert testimony. When asked to explain this discrepancy, Fennell declined to testify because his answers might further incriminate him.
Reed is represented by Innocent Project Senior Staff Attorney Bryce Benjet and Andrew MacRae of Levatino Pace PLLC.