The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended that Gov. Greg Abbott grant a 120-day reprieve to inmate Rodney Reed, who was set to be executed next week.
According to CNN, Reed was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago for the 1996 assault, rape and strangling of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. He was scheduled to be executed on November 20th.
However, attorneys with the Innocence Project say they have key evidence that can exonerate Reed and instead implicate Stites’ fiancée at the time, Jimmy Fennell, who was also a police officer.
Reed submitted an application to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles requesting the 120-day reprieve or a commutation of his sentence to a lesser penalty. The board chose the reprieve, according to a statement released from the board.
New witness affidavits from colleagues and neighbors of the murdered woman and her fiancé Jimmy Fennell, painted the couple’s relationship as volatile and tumultuous. Reports say there is also more testimony supporting the assertion that Stites was involved in an affair with Reed.
The attorneys hope to present the new testimony in order to refute the prosecution’s portrayal of Fennell and Stites as a happy couple eagerly anticipating their upcoming wedding and further cast Fennell as a potential suspect in his fiancée’s murder.
The Innocence Project has noted that Reed, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury.
The group says the murder weapon was never tested for DNA evidence and that forensic experts admitted to key errors in their testimony, and they also claim that a former prison inmate can testify that the Stites’ fiancée confessed to the murder that sent Reed to prison.