Stacy's body was unaccounted for for over an hour after being removed from the scene, arriving at the morgue with new injuries - including burns - that were not in photographs taken before she was transported. DNA from 2 cops were found on the beer cans at the site. Witnesses for convicted & sitting on death row Rodney Reed were never called to testify and the judge who denied the appeal when even more evidence came to light is the daughter of the judge who convicted Reed.
[TX] Wrong man in jail for killing Sgt. Fennells girlfriend?
DECEMBER 6, 2007
Could Georgetown officer be connected to murder?
CBS 42, TX
Reporter: Rebecca Taylor
12/06/07 10:38 am
[Excerpts] Could Wednesday's indictment of a Georgetown policeman on rape and kidnapping charges impact a decades-old capital murder case? Sgt. Jimmy Fennell, Jr. Is charged with sexually assaulting a woman at gunpoint last October. Some say the cop's arrest could help set another man free from death row. It was 1996 when 19-year-old Stacey Stites was found strangled on the side of a road in Bastrop. A jury convicted Rodney Reed of murder and sentenced him to death. Supporters have long insisted police have the wrong man behind bars...
Fennell indictment renews interest in Stites' murder
News 8 Austin Staff
12/6/2007 10:10 AM
[Excerpts] There are renewed calls to grant a Texas death row inmate a new trial in connection with the murder of Stacy Stites in Bastrop 11 years ago. This comes after a former suspect in her murder - her fiancé, who is a police officer - was charged with three felonies on unrelated charges Tuesday... Rodney Reed has been on death row since 1998 after he was convicted of the crime. His family believes in his innocence and says Fennell's indictment this week will help their case. "They didn't find him guilty. They said he was guilty. That's two different things," Rodney's father Walter Reed said... New evidence in Reed's case surfaced last year when a witness testified she saw [Georgetown Police Sgt. Jimmy] Fennell and Stites together the morning before her death. Martha Barnett's testimony contradicted some of the information attorneys were working with when Reed was convicted in 1998. But a Bastrop County judge said that evidence wasn't enough to warrant a new trial. Harrington pointed out Wednesday that Fennell's testimony played a role in Reed's conviction. And in light of Fennell's indictments, Reed should be given a new trial... Reed will plead his case before the Court of Criminal Appeals in the next few weeks...
How Prosecutors Fabricated the Case Against Rodney Reed
The Texas Railroad to Death Row
By ROBERT McDONALD
April 6, 2006
[Excerpts] When 19-year-old Stacy Stites was found murdered on April 23, 1996, the small central Texas town of Bastrop was shaken to its core. Now, almost a decade later, Bastrop is shaken again by evidence suggesting that the person convicted of her murder, Rodney Reed, is an innocent man railroaded to death row... One witness told the hearing that Jimmy Fennell, Stites' fiancé and a local police officer, was seen arguing with Stites in the early-morning hours before she was found dead. Another testified that, while attending a police training session with Fennell, she heard him say that if he found out his girlfriend was cheating on him, he would strangle her with a belt, so as not to leave fingerprints - exactly how Stites was murdered... Photos taken at the medical examiner's office show burns and injuries that weren't in images from the crime scene itself... A May 13, 1998, Department of Public Service report states that fresh beer cans found at the crime scene contained DNA from Stacy Stites and police officers David Hall and Ed Salmela (the original investigator for the case)... The truck apparently used to transport Stites' body, which contained fingerprints from only Jimmy Fennell and Stacy Stites, was handed over to Fennell the day that it was discovered. Fennell sold the truck the next day... In a polygraph test, Fennell failed the question: "Did you strangle Stacy Stites?" Though these issues came out in the hearing, Rodney's supporters were unhappy with the proceedings. They say that Judge Reva Townslee-Corbett, whose father presided at Rodney's original trial, clearly favored the prosecution during the hearing and treated the defense team with distain... "She's guarding her father's reputation"...
JUSTICE FOR RODNEY REED
...[POLICE SGT. JIMMY] FENNELL FAILED TWO POLYGRAPH TESTS WHEN HE WAS ASKED IF HE HAS STRANGLED STACEY STITES...
'Somebody's Got to Pay'
BY JORDAN SMITH
MAY 24, 2002:
[Excerpts] ...It was [Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto] Bayardo's testimony that established for the court the horror of Stites' death. Bayardo told the jury that Stites had been murdered by strangulation with her braided leather belt, and that she was raped vaginally and anally... [Nueces County Medical Examiner Dr. Lloyd] White said, he was disturbed by the condition in which Stites' body arrived at the medical examiner's office. Members of the DPS crime scene unit undressed Stites' body while she lay on a gurney on the side of the road where her body was discovered. "That's just not a proper environment for that," he said. If they are undressing her, and doing other things, he said, there is no way to ensure the integrity of the evidence, which is why it is best if a body is brought in to the medical examiner's office still clothed. "That's the standard," he said. "The reason is for the preservation of trace evidence [that would help determine cause of death]." In Stites' case, there is also no confirmed record of the custody and transport of the body from the crime scene to the morgue. According to police reports, Stites' body was removed from the crime scene no later than 8:55pm on April 23, 1996. Yet, according to Travis County Medical Examiner's records, the body was not checked into the Austin office until 11pm that night -- at least two hours later. Normally that trip would take no longer than 45 minutes. The lapse in time wouldn't be so significant, except that photos of the body taken at the crime scene do not coincide with photos taken at the ME's office the next day. Specifically, the photos show what appear to be numerous wounds on Stites' forehead, shoulders, and chest -- wounds not present in the crime scene photos, wounds that suggest that the body may have been, at least, mishandled during transport... On the body were a number of what Bayardo called "burns" -- five in all -- some of which in his autopsy Bayardo considered "near third-degree" and White says are extremely odd... White said he believes the burns are post-mortem... When Stites was found, her fingernails were cut to the quick, roughly and not filed. Indeed, Bayardo told investigators on April 24 that the nails were cut too closely to allow the removal of any trace evidence -- evidence that might have revealed or confirmed the identity of Stites' attacker.... Famed former FBI profiler Clinton Van Zandt said it's the kind of evidence that could be a valuable clue. "It doesn't jibe for [Reed] to do that," he said. "If you try to remove [evidence] from one place and not the other. That's exactly the issue." But according to the court record, it was one more issue Reed's attorneys never raised.
FULL VERSION OF "STATE VS. REED" - INNOCENT MAN ON TEXAS DEATH-ROW
A Hand Made / OSO Negro Production
Jan 1, 2006
60 minute documentary that explores an explosive capital murder trial in Texas. By talking to those who knew best -- friends of the victim and family of the defendent, investigators, lawyers, journalists and Reed himself, on Texas' notorious Death Row -- the award winning documentary reveals a case fraught with open questions and unusual coincidences...
Who Killed Stacey Stites?
A Bastrop County jury convicted Rodney Reed of murder -- but left many questions unanswered
BY JORDAN SMITH
MAY 24, 2002
[Excerpts] ...Six years after Stites' death, the question remains open: Who killed Stacey Stites?... Fennell was interviewed once on April 23, by then-Bastrop Police Chief Ronnie Duncan; once by Wardlow on April 25; and on April 29, Fennell stopped by the Sheriff's Office to tell investigators about some items he felt were out of place in his truck. On that same day, six days after the murder, the pickup truck Stacey had presumably driven was returned to the man Wardlow referred to as his "prime suspect." As a result, defense attorneys were never afforded the opportunity to confirm any DPS test results, nor were they able to conduct any of their own forensic investigation on the truck. Investigators met again with Fennell on Oct. 3, to administer a polygraph exam, which Wardlow reported "indicated [Fennell] was deceptive on relevant questions." Finally, on Dec. 18, investigators met with Fennell for the last time, to administer another polygraph exam, with similar results: Fennell's test "reported a deceptive finding ... relating to relevant questions" -- specifically, whether or not he had strangled Stacey Stites... "It was clear he'd failed the polygraph -- not once, but twice," [Austin attorney Jimmy] Brown said. "My question to the state was, how is that? Why do you not consider him a suspect? There was no answer"... Investigators never even requested a search warrant for the apartment Fennell and Stites shared... DPS had not even completed all the forensic testing on the pickup truck before releasing it to Fennell...
A FEW OF THE MANY LINKS on the web:
MYSPACE - Free Rodney Reed
MYSPACE - Between the Scenes
MYSPACE - State vs. Reed
Texas Moratorium Network: Stop Executions Now!
JUSTICE FOR RODNEY REED ...[POLICE SGT. JIMMY] FENNELL FAILED TWO POLYGRAPH TESTS WHEN HE WAS ASKED IF HE HAS STRANGLED STACEY STITES...
[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder unsolved unresolved]