Tag Archives: Innocence

TWO YEARS OF WAITING ON THE CCA: march and rally planned in Bastrop

There have been few updates on this site since Rodney Reed won a historic stay of execution in February of 2015. His lawyers have filed motions and his supporters have held rallies. Rodney’s father passed away, his mother’s house flooded, and children and grandchildren have been added to the Reed family. But in TWO YEARS, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has done nothing to look into the DNA evidence that it begrudgingly considered strong enough to warrant delaying an unjust execution. And still Rodney Reed, and innocent man, sits in a tiny cell on Texas death row.

In October 2016, new voices were added to those calling for Reed’s release. Crime Watch Daily reported that one juror who voted to send Reed to death row now she says she has regrets. “I voted guilty,” she says. “I stand by the decision because I based it on the evidence presented and what I knew at the time. Since then there have been a lot of things that I’ve learned in that 20 years, heard about, that have made me wonder if Rodney was framed.”

Rodney’s family and supporters will call attention to these disgraceful two years by holding a march and rally in Bastrop, Texas. Join us for a community cookout on Saturday, March 11, 3:00PM-9:00PM at the Kerr Community Center, 1308 Walnut St, Bastrop. Bring a dish or a cash donation for the potluck.

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/185225585299528/?

Updates happen most frequently on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/texasinjustice/

 

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Updated: Thanks to everyone who came out in the rain to show their support. We had our cookout indoors and spirits were high!

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Ball in the CCA’s Court: the struggle continues for Rodney Reed

A new piece from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty outlines the current status of the case of Rodney Reed and describes all the hard work by activists, lawyers, filmmakers, investigators and journalists that lead the recent stay of execution and the uncovering of new evidence.

Lily Hughes, national director of the CEDP, clarifies where Rodney’s case is in the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA):

Although Rodney has been given a stay of execution, the fight is far from over. The Court has agreed to look at Rodney’s new appeal, but there are no guarantees of a favorable ruling. One possibility is that the court could look at the evidence and opt to deny relief, as they have done in the past.

Another possibility is that the CCA could order a new trial. This wouldn’t be unwelcome to Rodney and his supporters. However, if the evidence of innocence is strong enough to warrant a new trial, then it would make better sense for the court to reverse the conviction altogether.

The best possible outcome from the CCA would be a reversal of Rodney’s conviction and for Rodney to be released from prison. In this event, the Bastrop County district attorney could still opt to take Rodney to trial again, in which case activists should demand that the DA drop Rodney’s indictment completely.

The article is a great comprehensive of the history of the campaign to demand justice for Rodney, a campaign that continues!

The various options before the Court make the ongoing activist campaign for Rodney paramount. Rodney’s family and supporters are prepared to carry on the fight. As Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed said at a rally in February, “If we don’t stand up today, we’re going to lay down tomorrow for anything they’re going to make us lay down for. And I ain’t a laying down kind of guy. I’m a fighter, I come from a family of fighters!”

This site will be updated as soon as the Court issues a ruling.

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

A rally for justice outside the Texas State Capitol in February 2015

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

Sandra and Rodrick Reed address a crowd outside the Texas Governors Mansion in February, 2015. Photo by Jaynna Sims

“My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home…after that, we still must fight for justice.”

Rodrick Reed, brother of Rodney, spoke to a University of Texas at Austin students last night.

“A lot of people have relaxed, thinking he’s on his way home, but we still have to fight,” Rodrick said. “My brother is still locked up, and the fight must continue until we bring him home, and even after that, we still must fight for justice.”

“Without the public, my brother wouldn’t have stood a chance,” Rodrick said. “They would have probably executed him on March 5. [Rodney said to me,] ‘I’ve lost both my grandmothers in [jail.] Now I’ve lost my dad, and I’ve lost several uncles, and my family is going away, but I have not lost hope.’”

Rodrick was joined by Ben Wolff of the Texas Defender Service and Ana Hernandez of the UT chapter of Amnesty International. “Here’s the urgency about this: No one’s won,” Wolff said. “Rodney’s still on death row, and he’s still there unjustly and an innocent man. The first time the state of Texas seeks to execute someone, they have to give at least 90 days’ notice. The second time, … 30 days.”

Hernandez added “I think that stressing the indignity of his current situation and the fact that it is unjust for an innocent person to face those circumstances for over 18 years — I think that finding a way to convey that kind of urgency is important. There is no end date for your activism.”

Panel discussion April 27, 2015

The panel followed a die-in hosted a few days earlier in one of the University’s busy pedestrian areas. The die-in highlighted Rodney’s case but also the oppressive conditions of Texas death row. A 6 foot by 10 foot area was marked off on the ground, representing the size of a death row cell. Demonstrators lay down on the pavement for 10 minutes with signs about Rodney and the racist application of the death penalty.

UT die-in

UT die-in

Die-in at University of Texas brings attention to Rodney Reed and the horror of solitary confinement on TX death row

Students at the University of Texas at Austin will hold a die-in on Thursday, April 23, to show their continued support of death row prisoner Rodney Reed. The students will table in the hour leading up to the die-in, which starts at 12:15 pm. The event will include a replica of the floor plan of cells on Texas death row to highlight the harsh conditions of death row, as profiled in this report by the ACLU. Texas has some of the most restrictive policies in the nation, with prisoners held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, in tiny cells with one small window, no television, no air conditioning, and no contact visits. No prisoners should live in this way, especially not an innocent man like Rodney. Although grateful for his stay of execution, activists say Rodney shouldn’t spend one more day in his 6′ x 10′ cage.  More information about the students’ die-in is available on Facebook.

You can see inside the Polunsky Unit, home to Texas death row, courtesy of this blog post at Minutes Before Six. The pictures were obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request and annotated by a Texas death row prisoner.

A panel discussion on Rodney, featuring Rodney’s brother Rodrick Reed and UT Amnesty International Vice President Ana Hernandez, will take place at UT on Monday, April 27 at 7:00 pm. Details are available here.

The Campus Coordinating Committee to Free Rodney Reed has hosted many actions on UT campus over the past several months, including a flash mob, collecting Valentines for prisoners, and an all-night vigil. Email cpoirot@utexas.edu for more info.

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, supporters kneel inside a 6′ x 10′ area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

Outside the Court of Criminal Appeals, a supporter kneels inside a 6' x 10' area representing the size of cells on Texas death row

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney

A group of supporters gather outside the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Texas Capitol Complex to demand justice for Rodney, March 28, 2015

Review of Rodney Reed case begins; protest of Court scheduled for Mar.28

Details are few, but Fox reports that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) will begin its review of Rodney’s case. A ruling as to whether the court will accept the affidavits filed on February 12 by Rodney’s defense is expected sometime in April. Rodney’s supporters will remind the CCA that the world is still watching this case with a protest on Saturday, March 28. Protesters will gather outside the CCA building in Austin at 1:00 PM to demand freedom for Rodney Reed.

Rodney Reed was granted a stay by the CCA just ten days before his scheduled execution of March 5th, in a 6-3 vote. This temporary reprieve is a victory for Rodney’s family and the hundreds of thousands of people who believe Rodney’s case is a gross miscarriage of justice. However, Rodney remains on death row, spending 23 hours each day in a 6ft x 10ft cell. Conditions on Texas death row are among the harshest in the United States, with prisoners kept in near solitary confinement. This has been Rodney’s reality for almost 18 years. The CCA has the power to allow DNA testing in Rodney’s case and we must demand they do this, and do it quickly.

Death Penalty Opponents host “Day of Innocence” at the Texas State Capitol featuring Death Row Exonerees

On Tuesday, March 3, a group of death row exonerees called on Texas lawmakers to abolish the death penalty. Witness to Innocence members Ron Keine and Sabrina Butler were joined by Texas State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), family members and friends of death row prisoners, and Mark Clements, board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and one of Rodney Reed’s fiercest advocates.

The group lobbied Texas lawmakers to approve legislation that would abolish the death penalty and prohibit the “law of parties” from being used in capital cases. This controversial law, unique to Texas in its application, allows people convicted of aiding or abetting in a murder committed by another person to be sentenced to death.

Sabrina Butler is the first and only woman to be exonerated from death row. Convicted when she was just 17 years old, she served over six years in prison in Mississippi before being cleared of all wrong doing.

Reports Austin’s KVUE:

Despite being the only woman in the U.S. exonerated after being sentenced to death, Butler’s life will never be the same. She has trouble finding employment, because she must still admit her conviction on job applications.

“That’s the part that makes me feel still like I’m in prison, because this will affect my life, not only my life, my children’s life,” Butler said.

Ron Keine spent two years on death row in New Mexico before being exonerated after a police officer admitted that he had actually committed the murder. “[The cop] went to the nearest church and confessed,” Keine said. “That’s what got me out. It wasn’t any maneuvering by lawyers.”

Texas State Rep. Harold shakes hands with Mark Clements at a press conference to show his support for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. Mark Clements spent 28 years in prison serving a juvenile life without parole sentence before he was finally cleared as Sabrina Butler looks on. Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network is at the podium.  Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Texas State Rep. Harold shakes hands with Mark Clements at a press conference to show his support for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. Sabrina Butler looks on. Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network is at the podium. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

Ron Keine, assistant director with Witness to Innocence, speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty at a press conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Ron Keine, assistant director with Witness to Innocence, speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty at a press conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

Rep. Harold Dutton told the Dallas Morning News, “I don’t want the state executing people in my name. You can go all the way through the system and be factually innocent and end up on death row, which is evidence by some of the people here. How many people has Texas executed who might have been innocent?” The Dallas Morning News, whose editorial position has been firmly anti-death penalty since 2007, created this revealing graphic  that, in their words, “gives a lot to chew on”. Texas has executed 521 men and women since capital punishment was reinstated in 1973.

People with the Witness to Innocence speak in support of abolishing the death penalty including Mark Clements, right, who spent 28 years in prison serving a juvenile life without parole sentence before he was finally cleared, and Sabrina Butler, the only woman  exonerated from death row, at left.  Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman

Mark Clements speaks in support of abolishing the death penalty. At left is Sabrina Butler, the only woman exonerated from death row. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

The Austin American Statesman posted a  short video clip of Mark Clements, who was freed based on police misconduct after serving 28 years in prison. Mark attended the lobby day on behalf of Rodney Reed’s family. “Don’t reject these men and women [lobbying their representatives]. Give them their chance. Free Rodney Reed”. A photo gallery is available here.

At the day’s news conference, Terri Been tearfully pleaded for her brother, Jeff Wood, to be removed from death row. Wood was convicted under the state’s law of parties for a killing committed by his partner in a 1996 robbery in Kerrville. In 2008, Wood, who was found not mentally fit to stand trial, won a stay from a federal judge just hours before his scheduled execution. He remains on death row.

Rodney Reed’s supporters can email Rep. Dutton and thank him for his continued commitment to justice and ending the death penalty in Texas. Dutton has filed bills opposing the death penalty every legislative session since 2003. None has made it out of committee, but Dutton said he refuses to give up. “I think Texas ought not be in the death penalty business until we get the systems fixed … until we can guarantee that no one who is executed is innocent,” Dutton said. “We’ll keep pushing it”

(Many thanks to the Texas Moratorium Network for their continued work around Lobby Day)

Organized by the Texas Moratorium Network, the "Day of Innocence" brought together exonerated death row prisoners, Rep. Harold Dutton, and friends and family members of men and women on Texas death row.

Organized by the Texas Moratorium Network, the “Day of Innocence” brought together exonerated death row prisoners, Rep. Harold Dutton, and friends and family members of men and women on Texas death row. Photo by Scott Cobb.

Mark Clements, Sabrina Butler, and Ron Keine stand in the House Chamber inside the Texas Capitol  Photo by Scott Cobb

Mark Clements, Sabrina Butler, and Ron Keine stand in the House Chamber inside the Texas Capitol.
Photo by Scott CobbSabrina Butler, who is the only woman to be exonerated from death row, holds a copy of her life story after she spoke along with people with the Witness to Innocence in support of abolishing the death penalty at a Capitol press conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman Sabrina Butler holds a copy of her life story after she spoke along with people with the Witness to Innocence in support of abolishing the death penalty at a Capitol press conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Photo by Ralph Barrera for the Austin American Statesman.

Amnesty International issues URGENT ACTION about Rodney Reed

Thanks to the efforts of the student chapter of Amnesty International at the University of Texas, Rodney Reed is the subject of an Amnesty International Urgent Action. We are thankful to Amnesty for recognizing the grave injustices in Rodney’s case and for sharing this information with its membership!

Their fact sheet is available as a pdf for easy sharing, and includes information for those who wish to write a clemency letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to stop Rodney’s execution. You can send an email asking for clemency through their website here. Thanks to Amnesty for helping us take Rodney’s case truly international!

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Amnesty International is one of the world’s largest human rights organizations with offices in over 80 countries.