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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 10, 2019 1:00 am

Calls grow to halt Texas execution

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas – In his five years as Texas' governor, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 prisoners while only once sparing a condemned man's life.

But Abbott has never confronted such intense pressure to halt a lethal injection like he is facing in the case of Rodney Reed, who is set to die this month for a 1996 killing despite new evidence that even a number of GOP legislators say raises serious questions about his guilt.

On Saturday, supporters of Reed held their biggest protest yet outside the governor's mansion, escalating a public campaign that now counts Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among the celebrities who have urged Abbott to call off the Nov. 20 execution.

Reed, now 51, was convicted of raping and strangling 19-year-old Stacy Stites in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed has long maintained that Stites was killed by her fiancé, former police officer Jimmy Fennell. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black.

Reed's attorneys have presented affidavits that support his claims, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur.