A petition demanding that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott halt the execution of death row inmate Rodney Reed gathered 2.4 million signatures Saturday, as supporters prepared to rally at the Governor's Mansion in Austin.
Reed is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on November 20, but his representatives at the Innocence Project are calling on Abbott to postpone the execution in light of new evidence that Reed is innocent of raping and murdering a woman, Stacey Stites, in 1996.
"If Texas moves forward on the execution of Rodney Reed, the true unjustness of the death penalty will be clear. Texas cares more about completing this 'task' than potentially preventing the execution of an innocent man."
According to the Innocence Project, Stites' fiance confessed to a fellow inmate while in prison for another murder that he had killed Stites. During Reed's trial, the suspected murder weapon was also not tested.
"Mountains of evidence exonerates Rodney Reed. All of that evidence was kept from the all white jury that convicted him. Instead, the evidence implicates the victim's fiancé—local police officer Jimmy Fennell—who has a history of violence against women, including being convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was wrongly sent to prison," reads the website FreeRodneyReed.com, which was set up by the Action PAC to call for a 30-day reprieve.
"Governor Greg Abbott has stopped an execution before," the group added. "He can again. A huge public uproar right now could force Abbott to free Rodney Reed and stop this execution."
On Friday, a bipartisan coalition of 26 Texas state representatives and 16 state senators sent letters to Abbott calling for the reprieve.
"Executing Rodney Reed without certainty about his guilt erodes public trust," wrote the lawmakers.
Politicians across the country have also weighed in as Reed's execution date draws near, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who urged fellow Texans to attend the rally on Saturday.
We have got to join the rest of the developed world and abolish the death penalty. Too many innocent people, particularly people of color, get caught up in this unjust policy. A civilized society should not be involved in the murder of other Americans. https://t.co/366d0w3QZu
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 8, 2019
Halt the execution of Rodney Reed and end the death penalty. https://t.co/Bg3pKF504b
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 8, 2019
Rodney Reed is about to be executed for a crime that he may not have committed in Texas.
Even though someone else confessed to the murder while in prison, Texas officials have refused to accept new evidence.
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This execution must be stopped. https://t.co/19bD0M6Ezf
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 9, 2019
Today in Texas we are standing up for the life and liberty of Rodney Reed.
We are standing up to put an end to Jim Crow justice.
Join us at the Texas capitol at 2pm. And please do whatever you can to stop this unjust execution. https://t.co/E7jKMRx8qp
— Mike Siegel (@SiegelForTexas) November 9, 2019
Rodney Reed is days away from execution, despite new evidence that could exonerate him.
Together we can save his life, but time is running out.
Tell Governor Abbott to stop the execution: https://t.co/UjPOpoF2qv
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) November 9, 2019
Members of Stites's family are among those expected to attend the rally in support of Reed.
"If Texas moves forward on the execution of Rodney Reed, the true unjustness of the death penalty will be clear," the ACLU tweeted this week. "Texas cares more about completing this 'task' than potentially preventing the execution of an innocent man."