The US Supreme Court is considering the case of a Texas man on death row

The US Supreme Court is considering the case of a Texas man on death row


The US Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear the appeal of a Texas man on death row who has pleaded innocent and whose case has drawn the attention of celebrities, lawmakers and millions of Americans.

Rodney Reed, 54, an African American, was convicted by an all-white jury in 1998 of the rape and murder of Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old white woman.

Traces of his semen were found on the victim’s body, but Reed insists he is innocent of the 1996 murder and that he and Stites had a secret consensual relationship.

The Conservative-dominated Supreme Court will not consider Reed’s conviction at hearings Tuesday, but will consider a narrow technical issue related to procedural issues.

The nine-member court’s verdict, due before June 30, could allow Reed’s case to be retried — or pave the way for his execution by lethal injection.

Reed’s supporters believe evidence gathered after the trial points to another suspect, Stite’s fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a disgraced police officer who later served a 10-year sentence for kidnapping and on-duty rape.

A fellow inmate says Fennell confessed to him that he killed Stites because she slept with a black man.

Fennell has denied any involvement in Stites’ murder, but police initially thought he was a suspect.

Texas prosecutors alleged during Reed’s trial that he sexually assaulted several other women prior to Stites’ murder.

His execution was stayed just five days before it was to be carried out in 2019 after a campaign that included reality star Kim Kardashian, singers Rihanna and Beyonce, and Texas lawmakers including Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Two online petitions aimed at stopping Reed’s execution garnered more than 3.5 million signatures.

– DNA test of the murder weapon –

In 2014, to prove his innocence, Reed asked Texas authorities to perform new DNA analysis on the murder weapon, a belt used to strangle Stites.

His requests for DNA testing were repeatedly denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, prompting Reed to turn to federal courts.

But they refused to intervene because the request came too late after the two-year window allowed to appeal a state court verdict in federal court closed.

The question before the Supreme Court is: when does the window open?

Texas says it starts with the state court’s first decision. Reed claims it’s from the last one.

Reed’s attorneys also argue that imposing a statute of limitations on taking DNA tests is unconstitutional.

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