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Celebrities Go to Bat for Man Sentenced to Die

Kim Kardashian West, others ask Texas governor to stop execution of Rodney Reed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2019 7:06 PM CST
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows inmate Rodney Reed.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

(Newser) – Kim Kardashian West has been spending a lot of time fighting for criminal justice reform, and the latest prisoner she's advocating for has a lot of other celebrities on his side, too. Rodney Reed is on death row in Texas after being convicted of the 1996 rape and murder of Stacey Stites, but an online petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people insists there is substantial evidence exonerating him. Another inmate says that Jimmy Fennell confessed to him he actually killed Stites, who was his fiancee at the time. The inmate says Fennell, who is white, was unhappy Stites and a black man were having an affair, and other witnesses say Fennell did indeed threaten to kill Stites over the affair, NBC News reports. That affair was reportedly with Reed, according to a 2002 Austin Chronicle story.

That same 2002 story reported that a witness who could have corroborated Reed's alibi was not presented by the defense, nor were witnesses who would have testified to the affair Reed and Stites were allegedly having. Fennell, who was a person of interest in Stites' murder, was in prison for abducting and raping another woman at the time of his alleged confession, but he has since been released. "PLEASE @GovAbbott," Kardashian tweeted at Texas' governor last month. "How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING." NBC rounds up similar pleas from other celebrities including Rihanna, Meek Mill, Busta Rhymes, and LL Cool J. Reed is scheduled to be put to death Nov. 20. (Read more Texas stories.)

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