Rodney Rodell Reed (born December 22, 1967) is an American convict who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Stacey Stites in the town of Bastrop, Texas on April 23, 1996. He has been on Texas' death row since May 1998.
His conviction and death sentence remain controversial. Reed's semen was found inside Stites' badly beaten and discarded body. His explanation for the semen, after initially denying that he knew Stites, was that he had consensual sex with her the day before her death. However, expert witnesses stated that sperm could not have survived inside her body for that long.
Reed is currently scheduled to be executed on November 20, 2019. Doubt over Reed's guilt has led to bipartisan support for a stay of his execution from Texas state legislators, as well as numerous celebrities and other public figures.
Reed was born on December 22, 1967 to Walter and Sandra Reed. His father was a native of Bastrop, Texas and an Air Force veteran while his mother was a nurse. Reed was raised with his six brothers in Texas.
Murder of Stacey Stites
The body of 19-year-old Stacey Stites was found next to a rural road in Bastrop, Texas on April 23, 1996. She had been strangled to death with her own belt. DNA extracted from sperm found in Stites' body matched that of Reed, which local law enforcement had on file for a separate sexual assault investigation.
Claim of innocence
Despite insisting previously that he had not known Stites, Reed's defense team claimed that he and Stites were in fact having a secretive relationship. Reed claims he was hesitant to admit to an affair because "I knew she was seeing a cop, and we're in the South. There's still a lot of racism going on."
The defense has argued that there are weaknesses in the prosecution's case, such as the murder weapon never being tested for DNA evidence and the claimed confession by forensic experts of making errors in their testimony.
In popular culture
Reed is the subject of the documentary films State vs. Reed, produced by Frank Bustoz and Ryan Polomski, as well as Plea for Justice: Save Rodney Reed.
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