November 10, 2019
The Honorable Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
RE: REQUEST FOR REPRIEVE FOR RODNEY REED
Dear Governor Abbott:
The Lone Star Policy Institute respectfully urges you to grant Mr. Rodney Reed’s October 21, 2019 request for a 30-day reprieve of his pending November 20, 2019 execution.
There is new, compelling evidence that casts more than a shadow of doubt onto the 1998 case that put Mr. Reed on death row. More specifically, new witness statements, forensic evidence, statements from medical examiners, and a new timeline of events based on pathology, call Mr. Reed’s guilt into serious question. Experts called Mr. Reed’s guilt “medically and scientifically impossible.”
While the new evidence appears to exonerate Mr. Reed, it also seems to implicate Mr. Jimmy Fennell; the victim’s fiancé and initial prime suspect in the case. The possible implication of Mr. Fennell adds yet another shadow of doubt onto the case that put Mr. Reed on death row.
As a former Attorney General and current Governor, you understand how much of an impact procedural fairness has in terms of building and maintaining legitimacy with Texans. However, even more, crucial to legitimacy is the perceived fairness of the system.
Over 2 million people have signed an online petition in support of a stay of execution for Mr. Reed. Politicians, think tanks, and advocacy groups from all corners of the political spectrum have written to you asking for a reprieve of execution, stay of execution, or commutation. Groups from outside of the United States have even advocated on Mr. Reed’s behalf.
Executing Mr. Reed as scheduled on November 20, 2019, will be perceptually and procedurally unfair. For the Texas justice system to remain just, this new evidence must be thoroughly vetted and analyzed before actions are taken that cannot be undone.
Granting Mr. Reed’s October 21, 2019 request for a 30-day reprieve of his pending November 20, 2019 execution will allow the Board of Pardons and Paroles the time needed to thoroughly investigate and analyze the new evidence and provide the proper recommendations.
Perhaps more important than protecting the legitimacy of the state of Texas, granting Mr. Reed’s request for reprieve could prevent the taking of yet another innocent life. For “once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made.”
Criminal Justice Policy Analyst
Lone Star Policy Institute