Miscarriage of Justice, or a Weak Defense?

The nearly 20-year-old case of African-American Rodney Reed is getting some attention as his date of execution draws near. He is on death row in Texas for his conviction of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Stacey Stites, a white woman from Giddings, and his date of execution is on March 5. However, there is growing evidence that he may be innocent after all.

The details of the case upon further investigation by various interested parties, including the crime investigators of a television show that revisits old crimes and lawyers with the Innocence Project, appear to show that Reed was convicted because his criminal defense lawyer failed to present crucial evidence during the trial.

The main evidence against Reed was semen found in the body of the victim, but Reed claimed then that they had a sexual relationship and that he did not kill her. The defense promised during opening statements that evidence of this sexual relationship would be presented, but no such evidence was shown in court.

The defense lawyer also failed to present alibi witnesses or an expert witness to challenge the time of death established by the prosecution, which turned out to be inaccurate. Forensic evidence shows that Stites was killed several hours before 3 am, which is the time of death established by the state.

Furthermore, there was a viable alternate suspect in the crime: the fiance of the deceased, Jimmy Fennell. At the time of the murder, he was an officer for the Giddings Police Department. He is later convicted of rape of a woman in his custody while he was working as a police officer in Georgetown.

Reed’s numerous appeals have been consistently denied, but in the light of new evidence, his team of attorneys hopes to have his sentence commuted to life. This will give them time to put together a case to prove his innocence.

As discussed on the website of lawyer Ian Inglis, the penalties for a committing crimes can be horrendous. Reed has spent years in jail and may even be executed for a crime he may not have committed. This case illustrates the importance of having an experienced and well-prepared criminal defense lawyer at your side if you are charged with a crime, especially a serious one such as murder.

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