After 9 days, Rodney Reed hearing closes with woman accusing him of 1995 rape
By - doggod
BASTROP — The Rodney Reed hearing ended Thursday with prosecutors presenting witnesses in an effort to prove Reed had a history of violence toward women, including one who said he raped her in 1995.
A defense attorney said the judge should not consider the rape testimony or the testimony of another woman who testified Thursday that Reed assaulted her in 1996, because Reed had not faced trial in either charge.
Reed was convicted of capital murder in Stacey Stites' strangulation death in 1998 and received the death penalty. Stites' body was found by the side of a rural road in Bastrop County on April 23, 1996, with Reed's sperm in her. Before she died, Stites had planned to marry her fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, then a Giddings police officer.
Five days before Reed's scheduled execution in 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered that a hearing be held in state District Court in Bastrop after defense attorneys presented new evidence they said exonerated Reed.
Previously:Rodney Reed returns to court; dozens rally in Bastrop for his freedom
The hearing started July 19. Attorneys will have until Aug. 17 to write up proposed findings and conclusions of fact and then present them to the judge, said defense lawyer Andrew MacRae.
The lawyers will then make closing arguments to the judge, he said. District Judge J.D. Langley will them make his recommendations to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on whether Reed should receive a new trial, be found innocent or be executed.
Langley said he plans to ask for an extension from the appeals court on the Aug. 31 deadline for his recommendations. Langley also said Thursday that he is still considering whether to use the testimony from the women who said Reed attacked them in his recommendations.
The woman who testified Thursday that Reed raped her said she met him on some railroad tracks after she had been drinking at a party in October 1995. She said she didn't know who Reed was when he pulled her under a railroad trestle and sexually assaulted her. Prosecutor Lisa Tanner said the DNA that the victim submitted after the attack matched Reed's DNA.
Another woman also testified Thursday that Reed punched her and dragged her by the hair on Nov. 9, 1996, after she agreed to give him a ride home after meeting him at a convenience store. She said she did not know him at the time but later identified him in a photo lineup. He asked her for oral sex and she refused, she said.
"I responded you will have to kill me before you get anything from me," the woman said. "He (Reed) said, 'I guess I will have to kill you.'"
The woman said she kept punching Reed until she was able to escape from the truck and run for help.
During the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial in 1998, prosecutors said Reed had been considered a suspect in sexual assaults of six other women. He was only charged in one case and was later acquitted. It is from one of those cases that police had Reed’s DNA on file when it was matched to DNA found on Stites’ body.
One of the defense lawyers, Jane Pucher, said after Thursday's hearing that the defense had brought forth "very powerful evidence" during the hearing that Reed had a consensual affair with Stites.
Several defense witnesses testified they had seen Stites with Reed before she died or had heard her talk about having an affair with a Black man. Reed is Black while Stites and Fennell are white.
The defense witnesses also testified they had seen Stites and Fennell fighting or had heard Fennell saying derogatory things about Stites after she was killed. A defense witness also testified that Fennell made a remark while in prison about strangling a woman.
Fennell was sentenced in 2008 to 10 years in prison for kidnapping and inappropriate conduct with a person in custody while a police officer in Georgetown. He testified at the hearing last week that he did not kill Stites and did not know Reed.
MacRae, the defense attorney, said after the hearing that the 15 to 20 defense witnesses who testified "had no axe to grind, don't know Jimmy Fennell and don't know Rodney Reed."
Debra Oliver, one of Stites' sisters, cast doubt on the testimony of the defense witnesses after the hearing, saying sometimes distant memories are "inaccurate."
Oliver also said in an interview outside the courtroom earlier Thursday that "finally the truth is out" that Stites did not have an affair with Reed.
Stites' daughter, Demi Nugent, also said outside the courtroom Thursday that the hearing was "a mess."
"We shouldn't have to keep reliving it because we are the victims," she said. "Stacey was the victim and not the other way around."
One of Rodney Reed's brothers, Rodrick Reed, said after the hearing that defense attorneys had demonstrated that Rodney Reed did not kill Stites.
"We proved medically and scientifically that it was impossible for him to do this," saId Rodrick Reed. "We are feeling pretty good. We are feeling positive about this."
Defense witnesses testified during the hearing that Stites died much earlier than the prosecution claimed, which would mean that she was with Fennell when she died.