Rodney Reed is an inmate in Texas who has been on death row since he was convicted in 1998 of the 1996 rape and murder of Stacey Stites. Reed and his defense team have maintained his innocence for two decades, alleging that Reed and Stites had a consensual relationship and that evidence implicating her fiance, a police officer named Jimmy Fennell, was kept from the jury that convicted Reed.
On Thursday’s (April 23) episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian West works with Reed’s legal team to get him a delay of execution. Here’s what you need to know about what happened to Reed and about Kardashian West’s work to exonerate people she believes have been wrongly convicted or suffered a miscarriage of justice.
Reed Was Granted a Delay of Execution
On November 15, 2019, Reed was granted a delay of execution for 120 days by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas. That court ordered that the original court where he was tried to consider new evidence in the case, including eyewitness testimony that points toward Fennell, the victim’s fiance.
According to the New York Times, at least three people had come forward with testimony regarding Fennell, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to kidnapping a woman; she also said that he raped her. He was released from prison in 2018 for that crime; a man who served in prison with Fennell said in a sworn affidavit that he heard Fennell confess to Stites’ murder because she cheated on him with a black man, according to the New York Times.
Reed’s execution had been scheduled for November 20. After this ruling was handed down, Reed’s lawyer Andrew MacRae said he expected a new evidentiary hearing would take place in four to six months.
In the meantime, the United States Supreme Court chose not to hear Reed’s appeal. He challenged his sentence based in part on the fact that the state of Texas “relied on evidence that was later proven to be scientifically invalid,” according to CNN.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they should not step in at this point; rather, they need to wait until the state court proceedings are finished.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a concurrent opinion separate from the majority opinion that Reed “presented a substantial body of evidence” and that she remains “hopeful that available state processes will take care to ensure full and fair consideration of Reed’s innocence.”
Reed is awaiting his next appearance in the state court of Texas, which is scheduled for September 2020, according to the Innocence Project.
Kim Kardashian Has Helped Several Other Inmates
In recent years, Kardashian West has been working with Cut50, an organization that aims to cut the amount of incarcerated people in the U.S. in half by advocating for cases where they feel there was a miscarriage of justice. Her work was recently featured in a documentary on Oxygen titled Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project.
That documentary highlighted five people whose cases Kim has worked on while she studies law with a firm and prepares to pass the bar. Three of those five people have been released — Alice Johnson, Momolu Stewart, and David Sheppard. Two of the inmates, Alexis Martin and Dawn Wilson Jackson, are still waiting to see if Kim and her colleagues can help them.
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