Rodney Reed: An Innocent Man Facing Death

November 20 in many people's eyes would be a normal day. A week before Thanksgiving, a month before Christmas. But for Rodney Reed, thoughts about the exciting holiday season will be far from his mind. November 20 marks the day that 51 year old Reed will be executed by lethal injection for the 1996 murder of Stacey Sites. 

Reed was convicted for Sites’ murder after a year of it being unsolved. Though Reed confessed that he and Sites had a secret relationship, he denied any involvement with her murder. Reed’s attorneys plead that he is guilty and beg the Texas court system to look at new evidence in the case that proves Reed’s innocence. Reed has been on death row for twenty years for Site’s murder. Within this time, new evidence has been gathered to point out the weaknesses involving the case. The Innocence Project, who took on Reed’s case, point out that Reed was convicted by an all-white jury in the state of Texas. The historical racial injustices that occur in the rural south are only part of why Rodney Reed had an unfair trial. Stacey Sites’s fiancee at the time of her murder, Jimmy Fennell, was a local police officer. Reed told his prosecutors to look at Fennell as the true killer, stating that Sites told Reed many times that she wasn’t sure she wanted to marry him. In 2008, Fennell was imprisoned for the sexual assault of a woman he had in police custody. An inmate at the same prison as Fennell stated that Fennell confessed to the killing of his fiancee, using several racial slurs to describe the man his fiancee was having an affair with. Recently, three people have come forward with testimonies that point at Fennell.

Reed’s defense has been gathering information for the past twenty years to help, but his support team are not the only people who are trying to help his case.

Everyone should agree that an innocent man shouldn’t pay the ultimate price for a crime he did not commit

Reed’s case has received attention from several attorneys within the state of Texas. Twenty six lawmakers in the state of Texas reached out to Texas’ governor and the board of pardons and paroles to look back into Reed’s case. 

The case has received support from several celebrities as well. Rihanna tweeted out the link to a petition pleaing for the death penalty not to be enforced for Rodney Reed. Over two million people have signed Reed’s petition. Rapper LL Cool J and actor Seth Green have joined the fight for awareness of Reed’s innocence, as did Beyonce and Oprah Winfrey. 

The question is what all of this will do for Rodney Reed. Will he receive justice? Will the state of Texas enforce the death penalty on an innocent man? Given the nature of this specific case, the timing, and the fact that none of the evidence points at Reed, there is a good chance there will be a positive outcome. One hope is that this new evidence and rally of support will pay off in Rodney Reed’s favor. Because whether you agree with the death penalty or not, everyone should agree that an innocent man shouldn’t pay the ultimate price for a crime he did not commit.