Rodney Reed

Death row inmate Rodney Reed, who has maintained his innocence in the killing of Stacey Stites, is heading back to Bastrop District Court for a hearing this week that could alter the trajectory of his decades-long legal battle. Reed’s defense team says it will show new evidence that points to Jimmy Fennell, 44, Stites’ fiancé at the time of her death, as the real killer. In this writ of habeas corpus hearing, Reed’s defense team says it will present evidence that Fennell gave conflicting accounts of his whereabouts the night and morning Stites disappeared and was killed. Fennell told investigators he was in his Giddings apartment sleeping when Stites left for her early morning shift at a Bastrop grocery store on April 23, 1996. However, Fennell told his friend, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Davis, that he had been out drinking and came home late the night of Stites’ disappearance, according to Reed’s attorneys. The state was just days from executing Reed in 2015, before the State Court of Criminal Appeals postponed it. His execution date has remained open.