Rodney Reed, the prisoner facing death row in Texas, was granted a stay of execution on Friday, five days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder verdict he has always claimed was wrong.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites, a woman he was dating, two years earlier.
In court, Reed’s lawyer’s argued that fresh evidence indicating that he was innocent bolstered their argument to stop the execution.
“We are extremely relieved and thankful that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has issued a stay of execution for our client Rodney Reed,” said his attorney, Bryce Benjet, of the Innocence Project. “This opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr. Reed’s innocence.”
Reed also received an outpouring of support from millions of people, including celebrities like Rihanna, Meek Mill and Kim Kardashian-West. Hundreds of thousands of people also signed an change.org petition
Stites, who was white, was engaged to marry a police officer, Jimmy Fennell, who was initially a suspect in the case. But when police found found inside Stite’s body that matched Reed, he became their prime suspect.
Reed initially denied knowing Stites, later saying this was because as a black man in small-town Texas he feared admitting to an affair with a white woman.
Kardashian-West was with Reed when he found out the news, tweeting that it was an “honor.”
“Today, I had the honor of meeting #RodneyReed in person and the privilege of sitting with him when he got the news that the highest court in Texas had issued a stay of execution and remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration,” she wrote.