Kim Kardashian West asks Texas governor to 'do the right thing' for death row inmate
The story of an inmate in Texas is the latest to capture the attention of cultural icon and criminal justice reform advocate Kim Kardashian West. On Saturday, she took to Twitter to call for his release.
"I urge you to do the right thing," West wrote in a tweet to Texas governor Greg Abbott.
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
West wrote on Twitter that she'd recently watched the movie "Just Mercy" - a legal drama based on the true story of Walter McMillian, a man who appealed his murder conviction - when she received an email about the case of Texas inmate Rodney Reed.
"I believe he is innocent," she wrote.
After watching the movie I opened up my computer & opened up my email about a case I had recently been investigating, @FreeRodneyReed. I have been hearing about him and his story for the last week. On Nov. 20, Texas will execute Rodney Reed. I believe he is innocent.- Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 19, 2019
On Nov. 20, Rodney Reed, now 51, is scheduled to be put to death.He was convicted of the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites, CNN reported. He was 28 at the time. But DNA experts call Reed's guilt " medically and scientifically impossible," according to The Innocence Project, a group that says it uses DNA testing to exonerate wrongfully imprisoned persons.
Reed has been on death row for 21 years and maintains his innocence, CNN reported. His execution was stayed in 2015 following new witness testimony and forensic information.
Three forensic experts in Texas admitted to errors in their testimonies during court proceedings, according to The Innocence Project. But forensic pathologists reviewing the case say the only forensic evidence tying Reed to Stites was semen found on her body, attributable to the "consensual relationship between them." While no witnesses initially came forward to corroborate Reed and Stites' relationship, two have since said that Reed and Stites were, indeed, romantically linked, the organization says.
Jimmy Fennell - Stites' fiancee - was a suspect in the murder prior to the discovery of Reed's DNA, according to The Innocence Project. An officer says Fennell gave an inconsistent account of his whereabouts on the night of the crime, according to the organization. An insurance salesperson also testified that Fennell threatened to kill Stites.
Texas courts also repeatedly refused to test the belt used to murder Stites for DNA evidence, the organization says, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review.
"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," West wrote on Twitter.
Reed's story is not the first of its kind to get West's attention. West previously fought against the extreme sentences of two women convicted of crimes. West employed high-profile attorney Shawn Holley in the cases of Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life after she was convicted of killing a man who picked her up for sex whens he was 16, and Alice Johnson, 62, who was 21 years into a life sentence related to a non-violent drug charge, W Magazine reported. West addressed Johnson's case during a May meeting with President Donald Trump, according to the magazine. Both women were ultimately granted clemency.
In April, West announced she was embarking on a four-year apprenticeship with a law firm in San Francisco in the hope of passing the California Bar Exam in 2022, CNN reported. The apprenticeship is in lieu of law school and satisfies the state's education requirement to be admitted to the Bar.
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