Hollywood celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Susan Sarandon are rushing to the defense of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, who faces execution for the 1996 homicide of Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old woman who was found raped and strangled.
Rodney Reed, who is scheduled to be executed Nov. 20, has become a cause célèbre among high profile celebrity figures who are pleading with Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to commute his death sentence.
They are citing witnesses who have cast doubt on Reed’s guilt. One is a former inmate who has made a statement saying that Stites’ former boyfriend, Jimmy Fennell, confessed while in jail that he killed his fiancée for being unfaithful.
But Fennell has denied that he is the killer.
Reed has proclaimed his innocence, recently telling ABC News that “I’m here now for something that I didn’t do.”
Reed is being represented by The Innocence Project, which has said that Reed and Stites were having a consensual sexual relationship while she was engaged to her fiancé.
Reed’s attorneys have asked Gov. Abbott for a 30-day reprieve in order to review the new evidence. Among the new witnesses is an insurance salesperson who said in sworn statement that he saw Stites’ then-fiancé threaten to kill her if he ever caught her “messing around” with another man.
The Innocence Project is arguing that 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.”
The case has stoked racial divisions since Reed is black and Stites is white. Reed was also sentenced to death by an all-white jury.
Kardashian took to Twitter to ask Gov. Abbott to “do the right thing” and stop the execution.
Rihanna tweeted her support of Reed, calling him “an innocent man.”
Actress Susan Sarandon also voiced her support for Reed, retweeting a message from Sister Helen Prejean, the nun and anti-death penalty advocate whom she played in the death-row drama Dead Man Walking.
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Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus retweeted a message from Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, who is also advocating on Reed’s behalf.
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