Rodney Reed was scheduled for execution on November 20, but after months of public outcry for a review of his case, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted his murder. I wrote a longer summary about Rodney’s case in October when the momentum to save his life started gaining traction, so it was such a relief to watch each update roll in. According to the Texas Tribune, “The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ ruling came hours after the state’s parole board separately recommended Gov. Greg Abbott delay Reed’s Wednesday execution by 120 days. The court’s ruling effectively preempts any gubernatorial involvement since it takes Reed’s execution off the calendar and starts a new legal process.” Basically, the Board previously recommended a reprieve for Rodney, but ultimately stopped his execution altogether as he and his lawyers from the Innocence Project present his case to a new trial court. Going to court will allow Rodney’s lawyers to display further evidence exonerating him from Stacy Stites’ murder as well as allow witnesses to corroborate their suspicion that Stites’ former fiancé Jimmy Fennell raped and murdered her.
Supporters of Rodney have continuously put pressure on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stop the execution (Governors have this type of power), but Abbott hasn’t spoken about the case or any actions taken to save Rodney’s life until the Court announced its decision. After the fact, Abbott tweeted: “For those sending messages about Rodney Reed please note that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted Rodney Reed’s execution and sent his case back to the trial court for further review.” While the halting of Rodney’s execution was a win for his team, the case will continue as his lawyers go back to court in the next few months and argue his innocence. Rodney will remain in prison during that time, suffering in a cramped cage with hundreds of other people, which is a horrific and cruel part of the system. Until Rodney Reed (and every other incarcerated person) is free and there are no more prisons and/or the death penalty, we will never have justice. But today, we celebrate Rodney and that he gets to live another day.