Austin, TX — In three weeks, Rodney Reed, who has been rotting in a cage for a crime all the evidence says he did not commit, will be executed by the state of Texas. Despite overwhelming evidence that the murder was carried out by a former police officer, the state of Texas is refusing to issue a stay of execution.
According to multiple witnesses and sworn testimonials, the actual person who raped and murdered Stacey Stites 23 years ago, is Jimmy Fennell. Fennell was a police officer for over ten years before he would be found guilty of kidnapping and raping a woman in his custody in 2007.
After Reed was convicted for a crime he likely did not commit, multiple witnesses came forward with chilling evidence against the most likely killer, Fennell.
“He was talking about his fiancée with a lot of hatred and anger,” a three-page affidavit by Arthur Snow Jr., who was serving a term for forgery in prison with Fennell. “Jimmy said his fiancée had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back. By the way Jimmy spoke about this experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him.”
Snow said Fennell confidently confessed he “had to kill her” in response to her infidelity, according to the affidavit.
According to the report, Snow is the fourth such witness to come forward with similar claims in Reed's defense.
“There are so many pieces of evidence that haven’t been tested, haven’t been looked at, expert witnesses have changed their testimony,” Williamson County Deputy Constable Deke Pierce told CBS Austin. “Like I said, I could go on and on about all the things wrong with this case.”
According to KVUE:
Reed's attorneys have long argued that Reed was having a consensual affair with Stites and that Fennell killed her.
But prosecutors in the case argue the two were not having an affair. They point out that none of these witnesses came forward with this information at the time.
But how were they supposed to come forward at the time of Reed's prosecution when this reported confession by Fennell happened years after all of it?
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An insurance salesman who wished to stay anonymous only just submitted an affidavit this past September stating he heard Fennell threaten to kill Stites if he ever caught her cheating on him — which she was.
“In November 1995, I struck up a conversation with Stacey at the lodge hall and asked her if she would be interested in applying for a life insurance policy. She agreed to fill out an application, and...made the remark, ‘I really don't know why I need life insurance since I am so young.’ In response to that comment, Jim, in my presence, told her ‘If I ever catch you messing around on me, I will kill you and no one will ever know it was me that killed you.’ I remember it well because of the tone of voice that he used. It was not presented as a joke. That concerned me and still concerns me today, because I took it as a threat on her life.”
Prosecutors claiming that no information was presented at the time of the murder is not entirely true either. In fact, even one of his fellow officer friends came forward at that time. In a sworn affidavit, a fellow cop who said he was Fennell's friend, Bastrop Couny Sheriff's Officer Wayne Fletcher, came forward with chilling evidence that Fennell had a motive to murder Stites. According to the affidavit, Fennell told him Stites was “f-cking a n----r” and expressed his anger over her affair. One month later, Stites was murdered.
What's more, another of his fellow officers came forward to the Innocence Project and went on record stating that they "heard Fennell brag at a law enforcement training class that he would strangle his girlfriend with a belt if he ever found out she was unfaithful."
Stites was strangled to death with a belt. And, likely due to his blue privilege, Fennell's belt was never tested for Stites' DNA.
Fennell's ex-girlfriend also came forward to the project and "described him as extremely prejudiced toward African Americans as well as controlling and abusive."
But it gets worse.
After Fennell was cleared in Stites murder, authorities discovered Reed's DNA — from their reportedly consensual affair — on Stites belongings. Reed was charged and found guilty despite the sketchy case against him and the overwhelming evidence against Fennell.
Several years after escaping the charges for a murder he likely committed, Fennell would be caught kidnapping and raping a woman while on duty as a Georgetown police officer. He would be sentenced to 10-years in prison and was released two years ago. As Fennell walks free, a likely innocent man is about to executed by government despite overwhelming evidence showing that this former cop and convicted rapist is the killer.