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.
PLEASE @GovAbbott How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 19, 2019
Rihanna tweeted her support of Reed, calling him “an innocent man.”
— Rihanna (@rihanna) November 4, 2019
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.
Read below and see why Texas is going to execute an innocent man named Rodney Reed in a month, then call @GovAbbott at (512) 463-2000 & ask him to grant a 30-day reprieve. Make sure you speak with a live person. The world is watching Governor Abbott, please do the right thing. https://t.co/HLHRMCLDaK
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) October 22, 2019
Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus retweeted a message from Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, who is also advocating on Reed’s behalf.
I signed this https://t.co/RaExAg1ULw
— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) November 4, 2019