In the latest development in the Rodney Reed evidentiary hearing, the fiance of the woman killed has waived his right to an attorney and is testifying Thursday.
Jimmy Fennell, who had previously invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, was called to the stand by Reed’s defense team.
KXAN’s Avery Travis is in the courtroom providing live updates in the Twitter thread at the bottom of this story.
This is a breaking news update. Our original story appears below
BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — Rodney Reed’s push to appeal his 1998 conviction of the killing of Stacey Stites could wrap up a day early, his defense team told a judge.
Originally, Reed’s attorneys had a full week to bring forward new evidence and witnesses before District Judge J.D. Langley. He will consider these and make recommendations to the Court of Criminal Appeals on whether Reed will get a new trial. Reed is facing the death penalty, but his execution has been delayed while the courts consider the evidence.
So far this week, Reed’s defense team has presented 17 witnesses — two forensic pathology experts and more than a dozen personal accounts of interactions with Reed, the victim Stacey Stites, and her fiancé Jimmy Fennell.
Over the years since Stites’ death, Reed and his attorneys have asserted Fennell was responsible. Defense has brought forth several witnesses over the last few days who testified to seeing contentious interactions between Stites and Fennell; some even believed their relationship was “abusive.”
The defense has called Fennell to the stand. He arrived at the hearing room in Bastrop early Thursday morning, according to Quinncy McNeal, an attorney for the defense.
Dozens of Reed’s supporters have filled the gallery each day of the proceedings, many of them wearing shirts that read ‘I Stand with Rodney Reed’ and ‘Give Rodney Reed a New Trial.’
His brother Rodrick told reporters at the onset of the hearing, “All I know is that we stand on the truth, and I know my brother did not commit these crimes. There’s testimony, there’s medical and forensic science.”
Meanwhile, her family disagrees, saying they still believe that Reed killed Stites. On Tuesday, her sister Debra Oliver said they had not yet heard from any witnesses they deemed “credible.” She added that they understood the first forensic expert, Dr. Andrew Baker, and his opinion but said “it’s just that… an opinion.”
She also referenced other allegations of sexual assault against Reed, saying she believed he would face more charges, if his conviction in her sister’s death was ever overturned. In fact, she said her family had connected with the families of other women who spoke out against Reed.
“We are together; we are one voice,” Oliver said.
Reed has not been indicted in any of these cases.
The prosecution had stood firm as well, questioning some of the witnesses’ memories and asking whether years of public attention on the case had affected their accounts.
The prosecution could begin their case and start bringing witnesses to the stand as soon as Friday. They were scheduled to begin next Monday, and attorney Travis Bragg told the judge they were working to see which witnesses could appear earlier than planned.
KXAN’s Avery Travis is in Bastrop and will have live updates as they are available.