Rodney Reed’s attorneys have filed a new application for writ of habeas corpus, supported by new, indisputable scientific evidence that proves he did not murder Stacey Stites. Three of the most experienced and well regarded forensic pathologists in the country have reevaluated the case and determined that Mr. Reed’s guilt is medically and scientifically impossible. The application is also supported by affidavits from new witnesses who can substantiate that Rodney Reed and Stacey Stites were romantically involved, so that any intimate contact between them was consensual, and not sexual assault as the State has argued.
The state has always argued that Rodney Reed abducted, assaulted and killed Ms. Stites, and dumped her body, in the early morning hours of April 23, 1996. Since trial, the state’s key forensic witness—Roberto Bayardo, M.D.—has retracted his opinion offered at trial and now contradicts the State’s suggestion that Mr. Reed sexually assaulted Ms. Stites. Dr. Bayardo’s recantation is bolstered by the conclusions of Werner Spitz, M.D.; Michael Baden, M.D.; and LeRoy Riddick, M.D.),who unanimously agree that (1) Mr. Reed did not sexually assault Ms. Stites; and (2) she was killed much earlier than the 3 a.m. estimate relied on by the State at trial. These experts—with over 100 years of combined experience—establish that Ms. Stites was murdered before midnight on April 22, 1996 and that her body was kept face down for 4-6 hours before she was transported in her then-fiance’s pickup and dragged into the brush where she was discovered on the afternoon of April 23, 1996. As Dr. Spitz explains, the forensic evidence renders the State’s theory of the case “medically and scientifically impossible.”
Dr. Spitz confirms that the latest Ms. Stites could have been murdered was just before midnight on April 22, 1996, in which case, the only plausible suspect is the man who claimed he was at home with her at the time, her fiancé Jimmy Fennell. Mr. Fennell, then a rookie Giddings Police Officer, was the State’s prime suspect for months. He gave inconsistent information regarding actions surrounding the murder, failed two polygraph examinations as to whether he murdered his fiancé, and was known as a jealous partner with a violent temper. The Court of Criminal Appeals has already held that the existing evidence raises a “healthy suspicion” that Jimmy Fennell and not Mr. Reed committed the murder. Also, any doubt regarding Fennell’s character as a violent sexual predator has since been resolved, due to his conviction for kidnapping and raping a young woman while on duty as a Georgetown Police Officer.
In addition to the dispositive new forensic evidence, two additional witnesses have come forward to confirm that Ms. Stites and Mr. Reed were romantically involved and that Ms. Stites and Fennell were not happy together. They support Mr. Reed’s consistent and unwavering explanation that any intimate contact between Ms. Stites and him was consensual, and not assault, as the state has argued (in spite of Dr. Bayardo’s recantation and the complete lack of any other evidence of assault).
Watch Levatino Pace partner Andrew MacRae discuss the Rodney Reed case here: