Elizabeth Warren is calling for an end to capital punishment, but she’s using a strange figure to push her agenda.
Rodney Reed was convicted of murdering a Texas woman in the mid 90’s. Since 1996 he has been sitting on death row in a Texas prison. Now, less than a month away from his scheduled “end” date, celebrities and political figures are rushing to his side because… well… you can probably guess.
Supporters of Reed believe that there is “mountains of evidence” that support his innocence, and they point to a racist jury as the reason why he was convicted, as opposed to his criminal history.
Reed’s execution is scheduled for November 20. More than 20 years ago, he was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, southeast of Austin. Police said he assaulted, raped and strangled Stites. Reed said he’s innocent. His attorneys say the wrong man was convicted. They point to new witness accounts and evidence they say exonerates Reed.
More than 2 million people had signed a petition on freerodneyreed.com as of Thursday. A Change.org petition has garnered more than 300,000 signatures. Celebrities such as LL Cool J, Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé and T.I. have voiced their support for Reed, whose attorneys are seeking a new trial. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin, and Democratic and Republican state lawmakers made appeals this week to stop Reed’s execution.
The Innocence Project — which says Reed, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury — points out what it says are weaknesses in the case. Among them, the murder weapon has never been tested for DNA evidence and forensic experts have admitted to errors in their testimony, which led to the conviction, the Innocence Project said.
Here’s how Rodney originally became a suspect in the case:
Prior to Stites’ murder, Reed had been charged with the kidnapping, and attempting to rape and murder another 19-year old on the same route Stites took to work.
The woman who had previously been victimized by Reed, Linda Schlueter, has spoken out at those supporting a man who tried to murder her.
“Rodney Reed is not innocent at all and all these people that think he’s innocent, I’m so sorry, they’re so blinded,” she said.
Defense lawyers for Reed point to an affidavit filed by a convicted felon as “proof” that Reed didn’t commit the murder.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz even weighed in on the issue in his home state:
“Having spent years in law enforcement, I believe capital punishment can be justice for the very worst murderers. But if there is credible evidence there’s a real chance a defendant is innocent, that evidence should be weighed carefully.”