Monday, July 17, 2017
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently issued a ruling in the Rodney’s case – ordering new a hearing in front of the Bastrop District Court.
The hearing is set to begin on October 10 and run for 3-4 days. The hearing was granted to examine a witness statement uncovered in a yet to be aired CNN interview that further cast doubt on the whereabouts of Jimmy Fennell, Jr., who was Stacey’s fiance at the time of her murder, and who many consider to be the real perpetrator of the crime.
From a recent KXAN story:
“Reed’s attorneys say Fennell gave conflicting accounts about his actions the night his fiancé was strangled with a belt. Fennell told police he was at home the night of April 22, 1996, and the following morning. Fennell said he had been at home and fell asleep before Stites left early in the morning to drive from Giddings to an H-E-B grocery store in Bastrop, according to court records. She never arrived for her morning shift.
Reed’s defense team says it has evidence that Fennell told a different story to Bastrop Sheriff’s Office Deputy Curtis Davis. In a recorded interview, Davis said he was with Fennell the morning Stites disappeared, after it was reported, and Fennell said he had been out the night before drinking and came home late. Fennell’s statement to Davis could cast doubt on his alibi.”
The Court of Criminal Appeals has reviewed Rodney’s case many times, and leading up to his execution date, they ordered hearings to review whether or not Rodney should receive DNA testing on key items from the crimes scene. The hearings were held by the Bastrop district court, which recommended against testing, following which, the CCA denied his appeal and he received the March 5, 2015 execution date. However, that was halted based on new evidentiary claims. An appeal to grant the DNA testing was subsequently denied in 2016.
The court has had Rodney’s recent appeal in front of them since 2015 – in which Rodney argues that he has proven his innocence through all the evidence put forward , including newly discovered forensic evidence casting doubt on the time of Stacey’s death, that was presented at trial. The court didn’t agree with Rodney’s claim that new evidence proved his innocence. But they agreed with his claim that the prosecution withheld newly discovered evidence that supports his innocence claim, saying the evidence “shows that the State presented false and misleading testimony, which violated his right to due process.”
The order states that, ”
“After reviewing the 2016 application, we find that applicant has failed to make a prima facie showing of actual innocence. However, we further find that his Brady and false testimony claims do satisfy the requirements of Article 11.071 § 5. Accordingly, we remand those claims to the trial court for resolution. Applicant has also filed in this Court and the trial court a “Motion for Deposition of Curtis Davis.” We leave it to the trial court to rule on this motion as it sees fit.”
This marks the first time since Rodney’s execution was halted in 2015 that there is a positive action from the courts regarding Rodney’s appeal. This latest piece of evidence is just one more link in the chain that binds Fennell to Stacey’s murder – and shows that Rodney is innocent! Rodney supporters will be working to build a presence at the hearings – as well as a series of activities to support Rodney over the next few months. Please check back at the upcoming events page here and on Facebook.com/texasinjustic for more information.