TO LIVE OR DIE- The Rodney Reed Case

November 13, 2019

Ted Cruz  and Oprah amongst powerful voices begging Gov. Abbott to halt the execution of Rodney Reed



The clock is ticking. Time which may be looking to us to be in hundreds of thousands or millions of seconds, an uncountable entity but to this man, time which should be limitless is gradually and finally coming to an end. On the 20th of November 2019, at 6:00pm, he will be put to death. This comes after a gruelling twenty-one years on death row for a murder which from all pointers he seemed to be innocent of. Rodney Reed is about to be executed for a crime that recent evidence plus testimonies collected shows that he may not have committed. Instead, it looks like the color of his skin is playing a huge role in his conviction as it had done in the past with others. Going ahead with the execution of Rodney Reed is gross injustice. We call for justice and ask that Gov. Greg Abbott step in to put an end or at most, a pause for 30 days to the execution.



We have followed this case from the beginning and had many questions at the twists and turns it has taken. The dimension this case is at in the moment was not envisaged some twenty something years ago when the conviction was made a year after the murder took place. Notable figures and politicians on both sides of the divide have lent their voice and are calling for the judgment to be overturned.








Rodney Reed was accused of raping and strangling 19-year old Giddings resident Stacey Stites. Rodney’s conviction came a year after Stacey’s murder when he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman. How sexually assaulting a woman amounted to raping and murdering another is a conclusion that has always looked a bit too harsh to us. Prosecution had showed a semen sample that was found on both women which strengthened the conviction of Rodney. Rodney had gone ahead to confess to having an affair with a woman he knew was engaged to another, an affair that must have produced the semen but didn’t necessarily tie him to murdering the woman although prosecution waved his argument aside.


Rodney Reed, Photo: Twitter 





This isn’t the first time the State of Texas is wrongly convicting an individual. This is also not the first time that the wrongful conviction of an individual has led to that individual being executed even with numerous evidences pointing otherwise. The case of Claude Jones comes to mind. He was executed for a murder he didn’t commit in the year 2000. A single strand of Jones’ hair was found at the scene of the robbery which was a liquor store. This single strand of hair cost a man his life. Researchers were able to test the hair a decade later and came to the conclusion that the hair belonged to another person but what was done was done. Life was taken wrongly but in situations where taking things wrongly were always righted, this wrong was impossible to ‘right’, a man was dead. This means running your hand through your hair on the roof could make you a suspect and ultimately end your life as it had done Jones’. It’s bullshit. A lot of people will face electric chairs and the hangman noose in this fashion.  Folks this case is absolutely riveted with much more than reasonable doubt. 




In 1863, Chipita Rodriguez was hanged in San Patricio County for a murder she didn’t commit. It took a century for her to be absolved of the crime she committed. The above two cases are few out of the numerous executions the State of Texas had carried out wrongly.  If there is any justice, then Jones would still be alive and Chipita may have died a free woman instead of having her neck tightened with a noose while she died of asphyxiation.






One notable thing to look in the two cases listed above is the color or race of the people accused and wrongly executed. Jones is black while Chipita is Latino. This gives credence to a study conducted by the University of Michigan which says that you are most likely as a Black or Latino to wind up on death row, wrongfully, then white convicts. This simply means that the color of your skin or your race will get you convicted quicker, longer, and heavier than the actual crime itself, or yet- if you were white. Where is the justice in that?




Rodney’s mother pointed to this fact in her message to Gov. Abbott, she asked him to, “Act like the good man she has heard that he is. He shouldn’t just stand aside and watch her son get executed for a crime he didn’t commit. If he did, she will equally see him as a murderer.”




Since Greg Abbott became the governor of Texas, 46 people have been executed. But then, he has also done something that wasn’t done when his predecessor, Rick Perry held power. He stopped the execution of Thomas Whitaker minutes before he was executed. Thomas Whitaker had been convicted of murdering his mother and brother over an inheritance. Gov. Greg Abbott overturned his execution into a life sentence for a crime he was obviously guilty of.


Here is the take-home. Thomas Whitaker is white. Rodney Reed is black. Thomas Whitaker committed the crime. Evidence and recent testimonies including the confession of Fennell’s old boss, Giddings’ former chief of police that Fennell had confessed to having been out later than the time he had given at the trial and he had been drinking the night before his fiancé’s body was discovered.


Strong evidence points to Giddings’ police officer, Jimmy Fennell as the killer. He had gone to jail for ten years for raping a woman in his custody and had been heard to tell the corpse of Stacey that she ‘deserved to die’ during viewing. He was also Stacey’s fiancé.




We join our voice with a host of others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has even called for a halt to the Rodney Reed execution with a tweet stating, "If there is credible evidence there’s a real chance a defendant is innocent, that evidence should be weighed carefully".  Oprah Winfrey spoke out stating, “At least the governor has to pause and look at the 2 million people who have signed a petition,” she said. “Two million voices saying listen to us, something is off here. Something needs to be done. Governor, if you’re watching, hello. I think this is a sign you’re supposed to at least not execute, but look at it,” she said.  The signatures she is referring to were collected on also created a petition and collected more than 300,000 signatures.


In addition to Oprah and Gayle King, celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, LL Cool J, and Kim Kardashian West have spoken out regarding Reed. Religious leaders like Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, have joined the chorus of voices urging the governor to take a beat and reconsider his decision on this case, and dozens of Democratic and Republican state lawmakers have put aside party politics to ask Gov. Abbott to stop the execution.




We are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to wade into this matter. He should save an innocent man from the hangman’s noose. This case has gone beyond the State of Texas and the whole world is watching with keen interest. Would he do something different this time and save a black man who has been wrongfully accused or do a thing of honor by stopping the execution or at most extending the execution date by 30 days, so Rodney can pursue his petition at the U.S. Supreme Court? Or he could take sides with Texas District & County Attorneys Association in their already deleted tweet which they stated:


“Not sure how Reed’s supporters have turned him into the most popular serial rapist since Michael Jackson. …perhaps that’s a good reminder why we don’t rely on social media campaigns to determine guilt/innocence or punishment.”




Governor Abbott, in the pit of your stomach you already know the right thing to do.  Currently, we imagine you’re experiencing stomach aches of the political and social odium you will get for standing up for someone who is black.  There is a white precedent set, you halted Whitaker’s execution moments before he was to be crossing over.  If you do not, at the very least, halt Reed’s execution due to new evidence, his mother would be right, you would be seen as the real murderer.


Today, the Governor can make a conscious choice to show the morality our elected leaders ‘may’ still have within them no matter race, no matter the party, but just based upon the evidence and the pure desire to pursue the truth before killing a human being. 


Will Governor Abbott give Reed 30 days to prove his innocence or will he kill him and we will find out later he was innocent of this crime?


We pray to God Reed receives justice.






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