Rodney Reed’s appeal against his death sentence will not be heard by the Supreme Court, based on Reed’s eighth and ninth appeal application in Texas courts.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor announced on Monday that she was denying Reed’s petition for a review of his murder case. Reed still has a 10th application pending. Sotomayor said this decision doesn’t affect Reed’s ability to appeal to the Supreme Court if his 10th appeal in the Texas courts is denied. In her statement supporting the decision to not hear Reed’s appeal, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “there’s no escaping the pall of uncertainty over Reed’s conviction.”
Reed on Death Row
Reed who is now 51 years old, has spent more than 20 years on death row after being convicted of the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. Stites’ body was found raped, sodomized, strangled and partially burned in her home town of Bastrop, Texas; DNA from saliva and semen was found to match Reed.
After his arrest, Reed initially claimed that he didn’t know the victim. However, later he admitted to allegedly having an affair, but he didn’t want to admit it at first because Stites was white, engaged to a local police officer, and they were in the South.
Reed has appealed his conviction nine times, unsuccessfully. His claims are that witnesses were ignored and evidence was dismissed, such as the belt used to strangle the victim never being tested for DNA, and forensic experts later admitting mistakes in their testimony.
New evidence in the case helped Reed earn an indefinite stay of execution in November, which the court acknowledged in its decision.
Kim Kardashian rallies for Rodney Reed
Rodney Reed case was taken up by the Innocence Project, and attracted the attention of many celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Susan Sarandon, Oprah Winfrey and Meek Mill. Just five days before he was due to be put to death in November, Kim revealed she was with him when his stay of execution was granted .
“Words cannot describe the relief and hope that swept over the room in that moment,” said Kim K, while thanking everyone who had spoken up in his defense. “All because of a deep belief that every man or woman accused of a crime especially one punishable by death, deserves the chance to have all available evidence considered.”
Words from Justice Sotomayor
In her decision, Justice Sotomayor said Reed’s petition “has presented a substantial body of evidence that, if true, casts doubt on the veracity and scientific validity of the evidence on which Reed’s conviction rests.”
“Misgivings this ponderous should not be brushed aside even in the least consequential of criminal cases; certainly they deserve sober consideration when a capital conviction and sentence hang in the balance,” she wrote.
“While the Court today declines to review the instant petition, it of course does not pass on the merits of Reed’s innocence or close the door to future review,” she added.
“I remain hopeful that available state processes will take care to ensure full and fair consideration of Reed’s innocence.”
[Click Here] to read the full statement from Justice Sotomayor from the Supreme Court’s website. It starts on Page 38.