Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Rodney Reed with his brother Rodrick, nephew Rodrick Jr., and mother Sandra Reed at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, West Livingston, Texas in 2019. (Photo: Courtesy of the Reed Justice Initiative)

Rodney Reed with his brother Rodrick, nephew Rodrick Jr., and mother Sandra Reed at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, West Livingston, Texas in 2019. (Photo: Courtesy of the Reed Justice Initiative)

Rodney Reed Lawyers 'Relieved and Thankful' After Stay of Execution Granted by Texas Court

"Reed's execution should not just be delayed, but canceled," said Bernie Sanders. "Real criminal justice reform must include joining every other major democracy in eliminating the death penalty."

Jon Queally

Death penalty opponents and human rights defenders applauded on Friday night after the highest court in Texas issued an indefinite stay of execution for Rodney Reed.

According to the Austin Statesman:

The order by the Court of Criminal Appeals came hours after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend that Gov. Greg Abbott delay, for 120 days, Wednesday's scheduled execution.

The board declined to support Reed's request to commute his death sentence to a life term in prison.

Abbott could have accepted or rejected the seven-member board’s recommendation, but Friday's stay of execution took the matter out of his hands.

Citing Reed's innocence in the 1996 murder for which he was convicted, human rights groups have been demanding Reed be taken off death row for years. That call has become increasingly urgent as his scheduled execution date approach.

"We are extremely relieved and thankful that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has issued a stay of execution for our client Rodney Reed," said the Innonence Project, which has been working on Reed's appeal, in a statement. "The CCA has ordered the claims of Brady violations, false testimony and actual innocence in Mr. Reed's case back to the trial court. This opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr. Reed's innocence."

As the Statesman reports:

Reed's lawyers say analyses from forensic experts determined that Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old whose body was discovered along a rural road in Bastrop County in 1996, had been killed hours before she could have encountered Reed — but at a time when she was with fiancé Jimmy Fennell in the apartment they shared in Giddings. Other witnesses have submitted sworn statements supporting Reed's claim that he and Stites were having an affair, explaining the presence of his semen in her body, and portraying Fennell as a racist who expressed anger that Stites was sleeping with a black man and, according to one affidavit, admitted to killing her. Reed is African American. Fennell, like Stites, is white.

Friday's order from the Court of Criminal Appeals will allow Reed to present that evidence and advance arguments that Reed was convicted based on false testimony from prosecution medical experts who told jurors that the condition of Reed’s sperm, with tails intact, meant she was raped and strangled minutes apart, and that only Reed could have committed the murder.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was among those who applauded the decision, but added that the courts should go even further and capital punishment be abolished entirely.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) expressed a similar sentiment:

"An indefinite stay of execution for Rodney Reed is just and warranted," declared the ACLU in a tweet following the news. "When the state kills someone who may be innocent in the name of justice, the true perversion of the death penalty becomes clear."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo