Investigators on crime television show believe Texas is going to execute an innocent man
A group of veteran detectives are sure that Texas is about to kill an innocent black man for a murder they claim he did not commit.
When the group met to examine the details of a 1996 homicide case in Bastrop County where Rodney Reed, a black man, was sentenced to die for the murder of a white woman he denied killing, it was clear to them he was innocent.
Retired NYPD detective sergeant Kevin Gannon and other cops started re-examining Rodney Reed’s case for the A&E channel true-crime show, “Dead Again,” which has experienced detectives and crime experts re-investigate old murders. The team went into this investigation cold, knowing nothing about the outcome, and they all agreed something was wrong.
“The first thing I remember [thinking] is, ‘oh my God, this is way off,’” Gannon told The Intercept. “I knew it was wrong.”
Reed’s execution date is set for March 5, and the case is now in the hands of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The investigative team is seeking a stay of execution, as well as appealing a court decision to deny Reed’s request in November for more DNA testing in his case. The episode of “Dead Again” highlighting Reed’s case will air tonight on A&E at 8 p.m. Central Time.
In their investigation, they found the victim, 19-year-old Stacey Stites, died several hours before the time initial investigators claimed she died. They looked at patterns of blood bruises on the front side of her body, showing that blood inside her body had pooled on that side of her body.
This implied she was lying dead face down for at least five hours. But her body was found in the woods on her back, which doesn’t corroborate with that evidence.
The TV investigators found that the evidence points blame toward Stites’ fiancée at the time, Jimmy Fennell Jr., who provided a timeline of his whereabouts that at the time ruled him out as a suspect.
“For me, it’s obvious,” Gannon said. “As far as I’m concerned, the murderer is Jimmy Fennell… I can’t see it being anybody else.”
The investigators also sourced evidence that shows Fennell has a violent past, and that he is currently serving time in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while on duty and in uniform as a police officer.
Police connected Reed to Stites through semen found inside her body at the time of her death. Reed claimed the two were having a consensual sexual relationship, but the evidence was used to say Reed raped her before he killed her.
It’s unclear yet if the new findings in the case will exonerate Reed, but attorney Andrew MacRae told The Intercept he hopes the court will quickly act in order to stop an “irrevocable miscarriage of justice.”
“I would hope that the state would want to execute someone only after knowing” the person is actually guilty,” MacRae said.