For decades, Reed has maintained his innocence. He, and many other people who can support his truth, say that Reed and Stites were having an affair, and that she was killed by her fiance because that affair was with a black man. Stites, who is white, was afraid of and abused by her husband according to several witnesses at the time.
Her fiance, Jimmy Fennell, was a police officer with a history of violence against women. After Stites's murder, Fennell kidnapped a woman and sexually assaulted her while on duty as a police officer. He was arrested, but while in prison, bragged about killing his "n***r loving fiance," and at her funeral bragged, "she got what she deserved." Even his friend and fellow police officer admitted that Fennell gave him inconsistent accounts of his whereabouts during the time of Stites's murder. Renowned forensic pathologists all concluded that Reed’s guilt is medically and scientifically impossible.
Six months after Stites was killed, Reed had been arrested and charged with the kidnapping, beating and attempted rape and murder of two other women. However, he was not prosecuted in either of these attempted rape cases. But somehow, the all white jury felt they had enough evidence to convict Reed.
Now, decades later, supporters from around the country were begging his pardon. Probably the most profound plea came from Congressman Michael McCaul in a letter to Governor Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole.
“A death sentence is final, and given the doubt surrounding his innocence at this time, I believe our state cannot execute Mr. Reed in good conscience,” he wrote. Without a date of execution looming, Reed will now await his retrial.
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