Transcript for Innocence Project takes up Rodney Reed's casen: Part 9
open the eyes in my heart, lord open the eyes in my heart, lord open the eyes in my heart I want to see you lo I want to see you I want to see you see you Well, I think it's pretty hard for an African-American man to be accused of raping and murdering a white woman in the state of Texas, be found guilty, and not receive the death penalty. We have an expression among our colleagues in the innocence movement -- it doesn't take a village, it takes an army. How could you not be affected by a person on death row that you think the evidence shows by clear and CING proof is innocent, right? What I spend my time doing is calling individuals who may have information from that time back in 1996 who are willing to it's an enormous challenge. We are in a position now where 24 years later, we're having to go out and try to speak to people and ask them about things they might have seen a quarter of a century ago. What I see when I am in bastrop is a community that has progressed from that time back in 1996. I think the idea of an interracial relationship was something that was frowned upon in that community. I think that's changed. You might recall that the jury was nvinced that there was a relationship. This was a very damaging, even devastatint of his trial. Alicia slater is a witness who worked at the H.E.B. With Stacey who has come forward talking about the relationship that existed between Rodney reed and Stacey Stites. In 1995, Stacey and I worked together at H.E.B. She told me that she wasn't that excited to get married, because she was sleeping with a black guy named Rodney. To hear that she was actually having an affair was shocking enough to begin with. She and I both proceeded to say, like, wow, you need to be careful with this. An 18-year-old about ready to graduate high school, I didn't want to get involved. In a 2016 filing, the state contends that her account is patently unbelievable and that she failed to mention the secret affair when she spoke to police at the time of the murder. If Rodney reed did have a relationship with Stacy Stites doesn't that complicate your case? Well, sure. However, it's awfully hard to find this evidence credible that she miraculously has this secret affair with this girl and somehow his semen hangs around for several days. Which science says it can do. There are exceptions. There are no absolutes in science. That's why you look at all of the extraneous evidence as well in conjunction with just the DNA. When you look at the actual police reports of the investigatiohere was a lot of mistakes early on. One of the key mistakes from the first day, it is murder investigation 101 that you go to where the last person saw that victim. Why wouldn't they search Jimmy's apartment? I wish law enforcement would have searched the apartment. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you, oh, it's okay. But I will tell you this -- I have been doing this a long time, and never once have I had a case where I didn't at some point say, gosh, I wish law enforcement would have done, whatever it is -- "X." They were looking at Jimmy, but yet they turned his truck back over to him within a week. After they had fully processed it. But if they're looking at him as a suspect, why would they turn his truck back over to him? Well, why wouldn't they? Forensically speaking, they did everything that was available to examine the truck forensically at the time. And so it wouldn't have made any sense for them to keep it. He needed wheels. One of the challenges that I've had specifically working on this case is getting witnesses to come forward. The problem has been they're fearful. But we have nine new witnesses in this most recent appeal. One of those witnesses is an insurance lady. She's trying to encourage Stacey Stites to purchase some insurance on her life. And Stacey sort of laughs and says, gosh, I'm so young. I have no need for insurance. And this insurance lady provided an affidavit saying that at that moment, before she could say anything more, Jimmy Fennell says if you ever cheat on me, I will kill you and no one will ever know about it. One of the witnesses who has come forward is a gentleman named Charles Wayne Fletcher, who was a former member of the bastrop county sheriff's. In an affidavit, Fletcher recalls Jimmy Fennell saying, I believe she is sleeping with a black man. Keep in mind, the way that Mr. Fletcher tells the story, Jimmy Fennell used a racial slur and he didn't say the word "Sleeping." And every time a new person comes forward, it's more colorful and creative than the last. I keep waiting for mother Teresa to be the next witness from beyond the grave. It's just nonsense. He's not guilty of murder. He didn't do it, and the evidence shows that. In its response, the state argues that neither witness is believable because they waited so long to come forward. What did the state completely get wrong as far as you're concerned about her death? Everything. It was like, oh, my god, this is way off. Rodney reed has been on death row for more than 20 years, with just weeks to go before he was about to be executed, we traveled to Texas to hear his story. You're sitting here with me and the clock is ticking.
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