Rapper Meek Mill joins a host of celebrities and others fighting to save the life of a Black man facing execution this month in a murder even the victim’s family reportedly believes he is innocent of.
Rodney Reed, 51, is set to be executed Nov. 20 in the strangulation death of Stacey Stites, a white woman, April 23, 1996, in Bastrop County, Texas, according to the Innocence Project.
“16 days left and he will be executed for a crime he didn’t commit .. get more info here! #freerodneyreed,” the rapper said in a tweet Monday and linked to a petition site for Reed. Other celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, T.I., and even the European Union have taken to social media to direct their concerns to Texas Governor Gregg Abbott and push the petition.
The man was convicted by an all-white jury when DNA from Stites’ body matched Reed’s, but he admitted he was having an affair with the woman, according to The Guardian.
Attorney Lee Merritt is promoting a rally set for Saturday to urge Gov. Abbott to stay Reed’s execution.
“We will (be) joined by Rodney Reed’s family AND the family of the VICTIM, Merritt said. “We are all saying the same thing RODNEY REED IS INNOCENT.”
Merritt has helped circulate petitions gaining more than one million signatures combined to urge the governor’s support, he said on Twitter Tuesday.
“Our attorneys are working nonstop to secure a stay. We need to match these efforts with a strong physical presence! #itsonus,” Merritt said in the tweet.
Shaun King, an activist who has also taken up Reed’s cause, said Tuesday on Twitter that 26 Texas legislators signed an emergency letter to Abbott urging he grant a stay of Reed’s execution and consider commuting his sentence.
“This is progress,” King said in the tweet. “PLEASE do this @GovAbbott.”
The Innocence Project, which is representing Reed, said on its website that Reed’s legal team filed an application for clemency Thursday with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Reed’s attorneys asked in their application that the board recommend to Gov. Abbott a commutation of the inmate’s death sentence in light of “mounting new evidence of his innocence,” the Innocence Project said.
Cited in the application is a new sworn affidavit by fellow prison mate and neo-Nazi gang member, Arthur Snow of the Aryan Brotherhood.
Snow, who was in prison for forgery, stated that the victim’s fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, bragged about Stites’ murder while Fennell was serving a 10-year prison sentence for kidnapping and sexual assaulting a woman in his custody in 2007, according to the Statesman.
“He was talking about his fiance with a lot of hatred and anger,” Snow said in the three-page affidavit. “Jimmy said his fiance had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back.”
So Fennell killed her, Snow alleged. He is the fourth new witness defense attorneys produced to halt Reed’s execution, the Statesman reported.
Other factors pointing to a miscarriage of justice include this from the Innocence Project: “Furthermore, three forensic experts have submitted affidavits recanting their original testimony and stating that the original time of death is inaccurate, making the timeline for Reed killing Stites implausible.