Posted on November 19, 2019

Rodney Reed: Another ‘Innocent’ Black Death Row Inmate

Robert Hampton, American Renaissance, November 19, 2019

Last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of a black convicted rapist and murderer, Rodney Reed. It recommended a 120-day delay to hear more evidence.

In 1996, a jury convicted Mr. Reed for the abduction, rape and murder of Stacey Stites, a white woman. Her murder went unsolved for nearly a year until Mr. Reed was arrested for attempting to murder another woman.

Mr. Reed was a suspect in other sexual assaults. Possible victims included a 12-year-old girl, a mentally disabled ex-girlfriend, and the mother of his two children. Police got Mr. Reed’s DNA from investigating the assault on the mentally disabled woman. It matched sperm found in Stacey Stites.

When first accused, Mr. Reed denied he knew Stites. Later, he claimed the two were having an affair and that this explained the DNA evidence.

Rodney Reed

Several celebrities, journalists, and powerful politicians believe Mr. Reed’s story and want a new trial. They also claim that a belt — the alleged murder weapon — was not tested for DNA at the original trial. It is now contaminated, having been handled by lawyers, jurors, and others for years. Supporters also say that the trial’s forensics experts are not certain about the time of death, thus casting doubt on the verdict.

Yet Mr. Reed’s most powerful weapon is his claim that he’s a victim of racism.

“I don’t think you can ignore the role that racism plays in our criminal justice system,” Mr. Reed’s defense attorney, Bryce Benjet, told Time. “In a rural part of Texas, the accusation of a black man raping a white woman is essentially a charge.” Mr. Benjet adds that his client was convicted because the all-white jury believed “a young black man like Rodney Reed would not be dating Stacey Stites.” Mr. Reed says he didn’t initially mention the affair because “in the South” there is “still a lot of racism going on.”

Most of Mr. Reed’s supporters believe the real killer is Stites’s fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a former cop who was later convicted of sexual assault. New witnesses claim Mr. Fennell and his now-dead fiancée didn’t have the ideal relationship depicted in the original trial. One imprisoned criminal claims that Mr. Fennell even confessed to the murder when they were serving time together. Mr. Fennell denies this.

No DNA evidence links Mr. Fennell to the murder, but the DNA evidence against Mr. Reed is damning. The death row inmate claims he had sex with the victim the day before the murder and that the semen found inside Stites’s anus was there for over a day and came from consensual intercourse. However, Mr. Reed’s saliva and semen were also on the victim’s body and clothing. It’s doubtful the victim would keep Mr. Reed’s saliva on her chest for a whole day or that his semen not be purged from her anus for 24 hours.

Stites’s sister, Crystal Hefley, says Stites’s long work schedule and eagerness to marry Mr. Fennell makes an affair impossible. She is convinced Mr. Reed is the killer.

Mr. Reed’s several appeals lost in court and the Supreme Court refused to review his case. It remains to be seen how the new appeal will fare.

Mr. Reed is just one of many black killers that journalists, politicians, and celebrities want to save from execution. Georgia executed Troy Davis amidst global condemnation in 2011. Amnesty International, the European Union, Pope Benedict XVI, and many others oppose the death sentence and said he might be innocent.

Davis murdered an off-duty police officer in 1989. Several eyewitnesses said he was the killer and two witnesses testified that Davis confessed. Yet the American Civil Liberties Union said his case was “corrupted by implications of racism.”

For years, leftists have insisted former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent. A jury convicted Mr. Abu-Jamal of the 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. A federal court overturned his death sentence in 2011, and he got a sentence of life without parole. Last December, a Philadelphia judge granted Mr. Abu-Jamal the right to reargue his appeal. The ex-Black Panther and his supporters blame racism for his conviction.

Sometimes, supporters of accused or convicted black murderers claim the jury was too white or included alleged racists. The Supreme Court recently overturned the murder conviction of Mississippi death-row inmate Curtis Flowers on the grounds that insufficiently diverse juries are unfair to non-whites. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the facts clearly showed Mr. Flowers was guilty, but seven justices felt the jury’s racial composition was more important.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Georgia death row inmate Keith Tharpe. Mr. Tharpe wants his sentence overturned because one of the jurors called him a “ni**er.” Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy argued in The New York Times that the case’s “stench of prejudice” should spare Mr. Tharpe execution. Hours before he thought he would be executed, Mr. Tharpe confessed and apologized for his crimes. He had brutally murdered his sister-in-law and abducted and raped his estranged wife.

The “racial slur defense” has worked in court. In August, a Michigan judge overturned a black man’s murder conviction because one juror allegedly used a racial slur during deliberations.

North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act stipulated that any death penalty sentence allegedly influenced by racial bias should be changed to life imprisonment. Republicans repealed that law in 2013, which sent several black convicts back to death row.

One of them is Marcus Robinson. A jury convicted him of murdering a white school student in 1994. His defense team claimed that racial bias tainted jury selection, and he was taken off death row in 2012. The jury that convicted Mr. Robinson included two black jurors. In 2015, a judge sent Mr. Robinson back to death row. The North Carolina Supreme Court is now hearing an appeal from Mr. Robinson and five other death row inmates.

Rodney Reed is just one of many cases. Whatever happens, his defenders will probably continue to believe he’s innocent. Blacks are far more likely to commit interracial violence than whites. Yet those who believe the justice system is “racist” want to believe Mr. Reed is the real victim. It doesn’t matter if he’s a serial rapist and probable murderer — the Left’s racial justice sees only color.