• Sun. Mar 26th, 2023


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Supreme Court to Hear DNA Appeal in Rodney Reed Murder Case

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear the case of Rodney Reed, a Texas death row prisoner who has long claimed his innocence in the murder of a woman in 1996.

Mr. Reed, who was convicted of capital murder in 1998 in the killing of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, has sought to challenge the constitutionality of a Texas DNA testing statute. Mr. Reed’s lawyers have pushed for the murder weapon — Ms. Stites’s belt — to be tested for DNA evidence, a step they say would prove his innocence.

Mr. Reed has appealed a decision by the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed his claim in May, saying the statute of limitations for him to seek DNA testing on evidence in his case had run out.

The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the case is the latest turn in Mr. Reed’s life in prison. A Texas court stopped his execution in 2019 after his case attracted intense interest from lawmakers and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna, who called on the courts and the governor to spare his life.

It was unclear on Monday when the Supreme Court would hear Mr. Reed’s case. His lawyers and lawyers in Texas who fought to reject his claim did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Ms. Stites, 19, was reported missing on April 23, 1996, after she did not arrive for her morning shift at a grocery store. A passer-by found Ms. Stites’s body along a rural road later that day, according to court documents. Prosecutors said she had also been raped, and Mr. Reed was arrested based mostly on DNA tests.

Mr. Reed has said that he was having an affair with Ms. Stites, which would explain why his DNA was recovered from her body. Mr. Reed’s lawyers say witnesses have corroborated that the two were having an affair and that new evidence has emerged in recent years that indicates Ms. Stites’s fiancé could be a suspect in her murder.

A judge in Texas recommended in November that Mr. Reed should not receive a new trial, sending his case back to the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.