‘What Happened to Justice?’: Rodney Reed’s Mother Responds to Supreme Court Decision Denying Her Son Access to DNA Testing

07.10.18 By Innocence Staff

Sandra Reed with Innocence Project Staff Attorney Bryce Benjet, who is one of Rodney Reed's attorneys.

Sandra Reed with Innocence Project Staff Attorney Bryce Benjet, who is one of Rodney Reed's attorneys.

“The state of Texas still wants to take my son’s life,” reads the first sentence of Sandra Reed’s opinion piece in the Statesman about her son, Innocence Project client Rodney Reed, who has served more than 20 years on death row for a murder for which he maintains his innocence.

On June 25, 2018, the United States Supreme Court denied Mr. Reed’s petition to review the denial of his request for access to DNA testing by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. DNA testing, Mr. Reed and his attorneys argue, could provide dispositive proof of his innocence.

Related: Expert Witnesses Admit Error in Case of Rodney Reed who has Served 22 Years on Texas Death Row, Prompting New Appeal

Additional appeals raising new forensic evidence of Mr. Reed’s innocence remain pending.

“A world-renowned pathologist testified that my son couldn’t have committed the murder. But the state of Texas refuses to DNA test all the evidence,” writes Ms. Reed.

Ms. Reed recounts how DNA was used to convict her son even though it had nothing to do with the murder. But not all of the DNA reports were presented to the jury. For example, Ms. Reed recalls a DNA report hidden from the jury that revealed beer cans found at the scene excluded Mr. Reed and implicated two police officers and the victim. “Why not test the remaining evidence?” Ms. Reed pleads.

Related: Innocence Project Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Denial of Cert Petition in Case of Rodney Reed

Ms. Reed contends there was no proof her son was involved in the murder. Without definitive proof, why does the state of Texas want to execute her son? In her words: “Why is Texas determined to take my son’s life based on old DNA, seemingly corrupt cops, lawyers, and yes, all of the state’s experts who said my son was guilty have since recanted their testimony. There is no proof, all that remains is the age-old prejudice that a white girl wouldn’t be involved with my son.”

In addition to so-called evidence Ms. Reed cites, she considers the intangible factors that led to her son’s conviction: “Tell me, what happened to the reasonable doubt? What happened to compassion? What happened to empathy? What happened to justice? My son didn’t receive any of the above.”

Mr. Reed’s experience has made her realize that her son isn’t the only innocent person on death row; there are many innocent people, like her son, waiting to be executed. As a result, Ms. Reed is now an advocate for death penalty abolition and, on a broader scope, for a justice system that “seek[s] the truth.”

Rodney Reed

Send Mr. Reed a note of encouragement as he fights to prove his innocence.

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Robert Hempstead November 13, 2019 at 12:13 am Reply   

Mr. Reed, I don’t know if you’ll even see this note, but I wanted you to know that I will pray for you tonight.

I recently saw Dr. Phil’s episodes featuring your story and it was quite compelling. I can’t imagine what I would have done in your situation, but one thing is certain, I wouldn’t have been as gracious as you’ve somehow managed to remain. I suppose that’s a testament of the way you were raised and of your mother’s influence in your life.

I know you can never regain the days that have been taken from you with such little regard, it would seem. With God’s help your sentence will be overturned and you will begin a new, free second chapter in your life.

I hope your mother also knows that there are so many people praying for all of you and I truly hope that it gives all of you some peace. It’s impossible to imagine living in a world in which something like this can still happen to someone. But you know very well that it still happens, better than anyone. I hope your story can change peoples hearts and minds about this subject, in general, and in your case, specifically.

Stay strong and keep looking up!

God bless you, brother!

Susan Rusk October 16, 2019 at 6:20 pm Reply   

Dear Ms. Reed,
I saw the Dr. Phil show about your son. I am so sorry that he has had to endure these 20+ years for a crime that he did not commit. I believe the evidence brought forth on the show truly shows that he is not guilty. I am praying with all my heart that they do not execute him in November and that he can get justice with a new trial. Please continue to be strong for your son. All my prayers are with Rodney, you and your family. You are a very strong woman and I support your determination for justice and freedom for your son.

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