S9E1: Rodney Reed: An Innocent Man on Death Row **BREAKING NEWS + ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY FROM DR PHIL**
Stacey Stites and Police Officer Jimmy Fennell were engaged, but Stacey was having an affair with Rodney Reed. On April 23rd, 1996, Stacey’s lifeless body was discovered, lying face up next to a dirt road near Bastrop, TX. Jimmy Fennell was a prime suspect until 3 spermatozoa found in Stacey’s body were matched to Rodney Reed. The state alleged that Rodney did not know Ms. Stites, intercepted her on her 3AM drive to work, raped and strangled her, and left her on the side of that dirt road, while abandoning the truck in a high school parking lot. With no other evidence of Rodney found in the truck, on the body, or at the scene; the state’s forensic experts incorrectly asserting that intact spermatozoa could not survive passed 24 hours; and Stacey’s whereabouts being known for the 24 hours prior to 3AM; Rodney Reed was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1998. The state’s forensic experts have since disavowed their testimony, and Rodney Reed continues to maintain that the presence of his semen was a result of consensual intercourse from late in the night of the 21st (early morning, 22nd). In this premiere episode of the 9th season of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, we go to death row to speak with Rodney Reed. His attorney Bryce Benjet talks to us about the case. His brother Rodrick Reed tells us about his advocacy for his brother and the Reed Justice Initiative. And, forensic pathology legend Dr. Michael Baden retells his sworn testimony given at a hearing for a new trial in October 2017, disputing the time of death. The corrected time of death places Ms Stites in her apartment with Fennell when she died, according to his testimony at trial. When asked about this discrepancy, Mr. Fennell invoked his 5th amendment rights.
Rodney Reed was granted an indefinite stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, saving him from his November 20th, 2019 execution date, but his future is still in danger. He still needs our help.
This Episode of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom was produced in partnership with NowThis. https://nowthisnews.com/
Additional engineering for Dr Phil and Jason Flom’s interview by Freedom Wynn.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co No1 and PRX.
Jason Flom The year was 1996. Stacey Stites and police officer Jimmy Fennell were engaged to be married but Stacey was having an affair with a man named Rodney Reed. On April 23, 1996, Stacey's body was discovered strangled on the side of a dirt road near Bastrop, Texas. Her fiance Jimmy Fennell was a prime suspect until three of Rodney Reed's intact spermatozoa was found inside her body. During trial, the state alleged that Rodney intercepted Miss Stites on her 3:00am drive to work and proceeded to rape and murder her. With no other physical evidence of Rodney in the car or at the scene, the forensic science of the time incorrectly asserting that intact spermatozoa could not survive past 24 hours and Stacey's whereabouts being known within the 24 hours prior to her death. Rodney Reed was sentenced to death in 1998.
Jason Flom It is now common knowledge that intact spermatozoa can be found at least 72 hours after release and all of the state's forensic expert witnesses have since disavowed their testimonies. Reed continues to maintain that the spermatozoa that the investigation discovered was as a result of consensual intercourse that transpired well over 24 hours prior to her death. On this episode of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, we go to Death Row to speak with Rodney Reed. We'll also speak with his attorney Bryce Benjet, his brother, Roderick Reed and the world renowned forensic expert Dr. Michael Baden who we tell is compelling sworn testimony that disputes the time of death. Rodney Reed is scheduled for execution on November 20, 2019. This is Wrongful Conviction.
Jason Flom Senior Staff Attorney for the Innocence Project and Rodney's legal counsel, Bryce Benjet, came by to tell us about Rodney's case.
Jason Flom We know that on April 23, 1986, Stacey Stites was found strangled and killed in Bastrop, Texas. She was last seen, of course, with her fiance, Jimmy Fennell. The search for Stacey started when she failed to report for her 3:30am shift at the grocery store where she worked. Jimmy's truck, of course, which he testified that she used to drive herself to work that morning, was found in a high school parking lot at 5:23am and Stacey's body was discovered later that afternoon, that same day, lying face up near an unpaved road. The state argued that Rodney didn't know her, but rather that he intercepted her on her way to work, gained entry somehow to the truck, sexually assaulted and strangled her and transported her to the remote, unpaved road where her body was discovered. All the while, and this is key, not leaving any other evidence behind other than the sperm in her body.
Jason Flom This theory was built importantly on three pillars. The three spermatozoa that were found. Right? The testimony from three forensic experts who maintain that sperm does not stay intact for longer than 24 hours after intercourse, which of course we know that it does, and that Stites' whereabouts were accounted for most of the day before she was murdered, thereby ruling out the consensual sex with Reed as an explanation for the presence of his sperm. And, of course, the testimony from Jimmy Fennell, who said that she left at 3:00am for work in his truck. Take us back and explain some of the circumstances and how the state developed this narrative that we now know not only isn't true, but couldn't possibly be true.
Bryce Benjet Yeah, it's interesting, because when you go back and you look at how crimes ought to be investigated, there were many obvious errors that were done initially. Nobody looked at the apartment that Stacey Stites shared with Jimmy Fennell, even though that was the last place she was seen. That is police work 101. There were not adequate notes taken of interviews of Jim Fennell who was later the key source of the timeline of the state's case. But as the investigation actually progressed, Jimmy Fennell soon emerged as the prime suspect in the case and was investigated, he was aggressively interrogated, he was subjected to polygraphs-
Jason Flom Which he failed.
Bryce Benjet Which he failed. This took place even after the police knew that it was not his semen that was collected from Stacey's body. The notion that the person whose semen is in that body must be a rapist and a murderer, was not the operating theory of the investigation until they match that semen to Rodney, a person of color. There is where you have an investigation of the person who looks like he had opportunity, motive, had a record consistent with this kind of behavior and as soon as Rodney was identified as the source of that semen, this suddenly turned around to a sexual assault murder that had to be committed by him.
Jason Flom Now, Rodney becomes the suspect. The state argued that Rodney didn't know the victim. He did, in fact. He was having a relationship. We now have numerous witnesses that have come forth who had no connection to Rodney. Right? Not just the ones that did have a connection to Rodney, his relatives who knew he was seeing her, but now others, strangers to him.
Bryce Benjet Yeah. This was a big issue at the trial. Just to back up, this trial was rushed, to say, at the best. At the trial, the defense lawyers were presenting what Rodney had told him, which she could back up with witnesses. He said, "I was seeing Stacey. It was an occasional thing. It was casual. We were with each other the night before her death, so not the night of April 22-23rd, but the night of April 21-22nd." That was the theory that was presented at the trial, but, unfortunately, the defense lawyers did not do the work or have the time to do the work, to actually present that evidence to the jury. Even what little evidence that Rodney's defense lawyers were able to present, about this relationship, about the explanation, was completely negated by the prosecution's experts, who said that it was impossible for Rodney's semen to be there based on consensual sex because of this 24-hour time frame.
Jason Flom At that point, right, any jury is going to go, "Well, you can't explain that away."
Bryce Benjet No. It was clearly important to the jury because they asked about it during their deliberations, and the judge actually read that invalid testimony back to them while they were deciding whether or not to convict Rodney Reed.
Jason Flom Now we know from the top experts in the field, including Dr. Baden, that in fact, the actual amount of time that the spermatozoa can survive, or that can be detected, I guess, up to 72 hours.
Bryce Benjet All you need to do is open a forensic pathology textbook.
Jason Flom Wow. You don't need an expert.
Bryce Benjet We've gone back now to the state's forensic pathologist, the person who did the autopsy, who has disclaimed the testimony that was offered at the trial. We've gone back to the Texas Department of Public Safety, who has clarified that although their analysts said 24 hours, the science says 72 hours. We've gone back to the private DNA lab, who their expert also testified about this 24-hour time frame. That private DNA lab has likewise recanted that opinion, said it was in error. The foundation of the state's case, which completely negated Rodney's ability to defend himself is gone. Then in its place, we've consulted with the leading forensic pathologists in the country, Michael Baden, Werner Spitz, Leroy Riddick, and uniformly they have said that when you look at this body, she had been killed hours before the state alleged that she was killed, which is a time that she, according to Jimmy Fidel, was at home with him in her apartment.
Jason Flom My production crew and I flew to Houston, Texas, and drove about an hour outside the city to the Polunsky Unit where Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses Death Row inmates. We were instructed to leave everything, but our inspected and approved production equipment in the car, went through security and finally reached Rodney Reed for our non contact interview through bulletproof plexiglass on Death Row.
Jason Flom Good afternoon.
Rodney Reed How you doing?
Jason Flom I'm doing okay. My heart is heavy, obviously, but I want talk about you. Thank you for talking with me. First of all, how you doing now? You've been through this before you had an execution date in 2015. so this is the second time around.
Rodney Reed Yes. Well, as well as we expected, I have my days, but I'm good. With meditation, reading, I try to stay up on current events. I try to distract myself from what's going on with other things. As far as stimulating my mind, I'll read magazine, read newspapers. I really like reading the comments with my supporters. They have co-message, they're inspiring to me.
Jason Flom Well, you're inspiring to them. They're writing to the governor, they're signing petitions that I'm putting out, that the Innocence Project is putting out, and it's extraordinary. It's somewhat encouraging to see that, and I think it's going to make a difference.
Rodney Reed Also.
Jason Flom I want to go back, if it's okay with you, back to 1996. You're young man, good looking guy.
Rodney Reed I was a young man.
Jason Flom You're still a good looking guy, but you're a young guy and you met you meet this woman, Stacey Stites in a romantic situation. We know it was a consensual situation. You met her at-
Rodney Reed The Diamond Shamrock. It was a convenience store, gas station like type, but they had a game room and all that.
Jason Flom Was it love at first sight? Was it like a lightning bolt?
Rodney Reed I wouldn't see it like that. I was just there. We were just hanging out. I'm at a jukebox selecting songs and she walks in and I wouldn't say it was not love at first sight, because we ended up playing pool, striking up conversation and it was just good.
Jason Flom Then sometime after that, obviously, there was chemistry there and you started seeing each other.
Rodney Reed Yeah. Yeah. Discrete.
Jason Flom Then at some point, she started seeing Jimmy Fennell.
Rodney Reed No. She was already seeing him. I was already seeing someone else. That was part of reason why we kept it discrete.
Jason Flom Do you think you were in love with her? Or was it more just a young people having fun?
Rodney Reed We were having fun. There was chemistry there, but I wouldn't say that I was in love with her because I think if I would have been in love with her, I would have cut everything else off. I don't really think that she was in love with me because she would have been in the same way, she would cut everything off on Fennell.
Jason Flom How long had you been seeing Stacey when she was murdered?
Rodney Reed I met her in late October, early November of 1995. Her death was in April, so I had stayed with-
Jason Flom Six months.
Rodney Reed Say six months.
Jason Flom How did you find out about it? On news?
Rodney Reed Yeah. Yeah. When I heard it on the news, I didn't want to believe it. That this is not the Stacey soul. Yeah. I was quite shocked. When they flashed her picture, I didn't want to believe it because I was just with her. I didn't want to believe it.
Jason Flom You were just with her like?
Rodney Reed Late night Sunday, early morning Monday.
Jason Flom She was murdered on a?
Rodney Reed Tuesday, the 23rd. All I can do is tell you that I mentioned, I had nothing to do with it. Three sperms, I was with her the night before. You learn that basic biology that in a pinhead drop, you're looking at millions. That's just a pinhead drop. For the state's on experts to come back and recap.
Jason Flom All thrilled. Then we know that Jimmy was the original suspect. We know they circled up the wagons and protected him. He failed to polygraphs. We know all the facts.
Rodney Reed Yes. Yes.
Jason Flom What would you most want people to know about the evidence? If you want to say to a stranger, or somebody who's watching this right now? "Well, I don't know. He's in there. There must be something."
Rodney Reed Well, the time of death.
Jason Flom Dr. Michael Biden is about as decorated a forensic expert as you can get, including having served as chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, investigating the assassinations of no less than president John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. He studied the evidence in Stacey Stites murder case and gave testimony at a hearing back on October 11, 2017, when Rodney was seeking a new trial.
Michael Baden I think that my opinion is solid in this matter and disagrees with the prosecutor's opinion.
Jason Flom It disagrees on almost every important point that the prosecution used to convict Rodney. Is that fair to say?
Michael Baden Well, it disagrees on the time of death, the place of death, and whether or not a sexual assault had occurred.
Jason Flom Right. Well, those are pretty much it. Then there's the issue of the lividity, which plays into all of these things.
Michael Baden Lividity is a measure of time of death. When we die, certain processes in our body stop. The heart stops functioning, blood stops moving around, and the blood itself, similar to when you give blood at a blood bank, the blood is about 45% solid material, red cells, white cells and platelets and plasma on top of the yellow tinged clear fluid. From the time of our birth to time we die, the heart not knowing pumps blood around, but also turns it up. When blood comes out, what you see is red blood, you don't see the separation. When blood goes into a bag in a blood bank, after a few minutes, one sees the solid material settling down, so you have all the red cells and a majority of the same material coming to the bottom, 40%, 45% of the value. That's what happens after death. After we die, the blood instead of being well churned up starts settling out with the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets settling to the bottom.
Jason Flom Gravity.
Michael Baden By gravity. Whatever part of the body is downward against the ground will get a bluish purple color of the settled red blood cells. That's called lividity.
Jason Flom Why is this so important and in the case of Stacey Stites?
Michael Baden Because it tells two things to the medical examiner, the coroner coming to the scene. The first thing we look for always is, did the person die here? Was the body moved after death? Just an automatic initial impression. When we see inappropriate lividity that is lying on the back as current here, but the discoloration is in the front, it means that individual dissentient here, was laying face down for at least four or five hours for the blood to settle, causing the bluish discoloration of lividity. She could not have died in that position. If she had died in that position, all the lividity would be near the ground.
Jason Flom That's a certainty-
Michael Baden That's a certainty. Right. This is a change in the body that happens to everybody after death, but just the laws of gravity, but for the lividity to settle and not turn, if a body is moved within an hour after death. It's like when the snow globe that you let the snow settle at the bottom then you turn it over and it settles in the other direction. If in an hour to one turns the body over, then, well, the blood goes in the other direction. After four or five hours, the lividity becomes fixed because the red blood cells started going out of the blood vessels and well, so that if you turn it over at the four, five hours, the inappropriate lividity will remain and won't disappear.
Michael Baden In order for us to see the lividity on the front, not only was she laying face down, but she was laying face down in this circumstance at least four or five hours. We can tell from that, that she was moved from a place that she was laying face down and that she had to be in one position for at least four or five hours before she was moved.
Michael Baden Another thing that happens when we die is that, the tissues start to decompose because it's not given the usual oxygen supply, The first tissues that decompose are the lining cells of the mouth, the nose and also the intestinal tract. They just start dying. In the nose and mouth, the dying tissues mix up with whatever fluids are present, and a thick maroon type discharge will occur. She had been laying face forward and the nose and mouth free fluids to leak out. This would happen in a car. The purge fluids were in the passenger side. That would be coming out of her nose and mouth and the lividity would be developing to some extent the fact that she's going forward. In this case, since the prosecution argument is that the defendant met her at 3:00am and she died after 3:00am, laying in one position for at least four or five hours until 8:00am. There's evidence that she was dead in the car before 5:30 because in the car, one has purged fluids. She's dead for at least four hours before she's taken out of the car.
Jason Flom Of course, we know that the car was found at 5:23am, so it actually is not possible. This scenario cannot have happened. You can't have five hours in two hours.
Michael Baden That's right. The lividity and the purge fluids in the car would establish that she was dead laying face down close to midnight, but definitely before 3:00 in the morning.
Jason Flom Fiance, Jimmy Fennell in his own words, under oath, a trial, he stated that he was home with her from 8:00pm the night before until she left for work around 3:00 in the morning the next day. I think you've made it very clear that it is your expert opinion to a very high degree of certainty that that was the time that she was murdered.
Michael Baden It is my opinion that she was murdered and strangled well before 3:00am, closer to midnight and that Mr. Fenella was there. Maybe somebody else came in and did it? I can't say that he did it except that he was the only one there.
Jason Flom How certain are you that Rodney could not have committed this crime?
Michael Baden I am certain beyond all reasonable doubts. That she was dead before she could possibly have met with Rodney, that he could not possibly strangled Stacey after 3:00 in the morning to a reasonable certainly maybe up to 98%, 99% that, as far as any testimony in any trial in the standards used, he could not have committed the crime.
Jason Flom If this execution goes forward, how are you going to process that information?
Michael Baden It would be terrible in a number of ways. Number one, there are people when executed, who turned out to be innocent, clearly. Even if he's exonerated, it's horrible that he's been in prison for so long, during which time whoever the real murder is, is free to go about harming other people.
Jason Flom I want to talk about the fact that this officer had a very troubling history of misconduct. That in fact, sometime after Rodney's arrest and conviction, Jimmy himself was arrested and convicted.
Bryce Benjet Yeah, and I think we need to go back and just look at who Jimmy Fennell was at the time and who he continues to be. Even before the time of the murder, there were signs that things weren't right with Jimmy. In February of 1996, so this is to two months a little more before the murder, there's an incident in which he chases down a young Hispanic man in the small town that he's a patrol officer, he's alleged to have beat him and put a gun to this kid's head. He was sued for that, alleging police misconduct and police brutality. That suit was settled. He had a record of misconduct. That's just not even the half of it.
Bryce Benjet Just looking from the time around the murder, a woman that Jimmy Fennell was dating in Giddings described him as emotionally abusive, possessive, virulently racist, and when she broke off with him the relationship, he stalked her. I remember one day, I opened up the newspaper and reading about Fennell's arrest for a alleged sexual assault while on patrol. He ultimately pled guilty to related charges that arose from an incident in which he was called out to assist a young woman, and instead of helping her, drove her out, kidnapped her, raped her, and then dropped her back off in the situation that he was supposed to protect her from. She with just incredible bravery, calls 911 and reports it and what happens, Jimmy Fennell comes back out, intercepts her, arrests her and thankfully the police ultimately took this seriously and Fennell was prosecuted.
Jason Flom And convicted.
Bryce Benjet And convicted, pled guilty to charges served, essentially every day of a 10-year sentence.
Rodney Reed He was, "One of the state's finest police officer." These things happen. You have police killings here, killing innocent people, unarmed people and the first thing they say, they would send fear for the lives, but in here you have this police officer that wasn't in fear for his life, he didn't give a damn about life and up until to the time he got convicted of the crime, he just got released wrong. I feel like the state enabled. They should have been keeping an eye on him.
Jason Flom When did you learn about Jimmy being arrested and charged with kidnapping and rape, which happened about 10 years after you were convicted?
Rodney Reed Yeah, because-
Jason Flom Was that on TV?
Rodney Reed No, I was listening to the radio. We don't have television here. Now, I listen to the hour on hour and it just so happened I was and I heard them talking about an officer being arrested for sexual assault in Wilson county and he was getting closely inclined. It would say Jimmy Fennella tried to kick the door off the hinges. I was elated. I was amped up, really.
Jason Flom Did you think they would convict him?
Rodney Reed Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't until later on that my attorneys within this project, really start digging into that and pull up that information and I was like, "Well, okay, he's charged with this." Then they found out that he was under investigation and they found out about these other cases that he had been charged with, that his fellow officers pushed on his road for. There's no way. This can't be happening. Even the law enforcement agency that he worked for was protecting it.
Jason Flom Yeah. In your case, we know that it was his best friend on the force who was one of the lead investigators.
Bryce Benjet When you look at the police investigation, this was not a one-off incident. Police reports indicate that he had credible allegations of raping at least one other woman in his custody and a pattern of abuse and sexual misconduct that went back years. One of the police reports is talking about the rape allegations where he was on patrol. He rapes a woman and then gives her his card saying, "Do you want to go on another date." This is not somebody who's, at least the evidence shows, is tied to reality, and somebody that we should be concerned about.
Jason Flom I read somewhere, that officer Fennell, then officer Fennell had been overheard by a fellow officer bragging or exclaiming that if he ever found Stacey cheating on him, he would strangle her with a belt. Is that true?
Bryce Benjet Yeah. He was in a police training class. He was a rookie cop when all this went down. A classmate of his was in some sort of an argument with him and he said, "Well, if I ever catch my girlfriend cheating on me, I'll kill her." She made some response about how he would be identified or something. He said, "No, they'll never get my fingerprints. I'll strangle her with a belt." Which, obviously, where you have Stacey strangled with a belt is just hard to understand, but then you got to put that in the context of everything that the police reports indicate about Jimmy and everything we subsequently know. When he talked to the police about this case early on, his statement was riddled with inconsistencies. The morning she disappeared, but before her body was found took out all the money in his bank account.
Bryce Benjet Then the fact that two eyewitnesses have recently come forward and submitted signed affidavits, an insurance salesperson who said that Fennell threatened to kill Stacey while applying for life insurance, a deputy in the Lake County Sheriff's Office at the time of the murder who Fennell made an incriminating statement to at Stacey's funeral and Fidel's best friend at the time of the murder Bastrop sheriff's deputy, Curtis Davis has now revealed that Fennell gave an inconsistent account of where he was on the night of the murder. He claimed to Officer Davis that he was out late drinking and he later testified at the trial that he spent a quiet evening at home with Stites at their apartment during what we now know to be the time of her death, based on no less than Dr. Michael Baden's testimony. When asked to explain this discrepancy, Fennell invoked his fifth amendment rights, declined to testify to avoid possible self-incrimination. All of these adds up to a mountain of shit.
Jason Flom Also, the breaking news is, there's a confession right that someone who was in prison with him has now come forward and signed an affidavit saying that Jimmy confessed to this fellow that he was in prison with, that he had actually strangled her.
Jason Flom Roderick Reed and his wife Uwana have put everything, careers, social lives, personal matters on hold to advocate for Rodney and found time to sit down with me. Roderick, welcome to Wrongful Conviction. I'm sorry you're here, but hopefully we'll be able to help make a difference together and get the justice that we all want for Rodney. I wanted to ask you about growing up with your older brother. What was your childhood like? Was it a happy childhood?
Rodrick Reed Oh yeah, we had a good childhood. As a matter of fact, I come from a large family. I got five brothers.
Jason Flom Wow.
Rodrick Reed Five brothers. Rodney's the fourth and imagine I'm the fifth. He always wanted a little brother and when I came along, he had one and he built it over me. He's been there for every part of my life since I can remember up until 1998, when they convicted him of this crime.
Jason Flom When did you find out about Stacey's murder?
Rodrick Reed I heard about it over the news and me and Rodney talked about it and his assumption was, "I bet you, I know that Jimmy Fennelli did this." That's when I said, Nancy, I told you. That's from the news. I told you from start, but at that time, we had no idea. We never dreamed Rodney would be charged for Stacey's murder.
Jason Flom What was that saying that your cousin had, that almost portends this horrible scenario.
Rodrick Reed It's never good to know or date a white woman, something to that effect.
Jason Flom He's profound and chilling, when you think about how it actually played out in real life, knowing the history of how many black men were lynched for allegedly having sex, whether they did or didn't with a white woman. Those weren't even cases in which an officer of the law was in prowress and we had said anything else. In fact, I can't help saying this, it feels like we're doing everything we can to prevent it, but if the state of Texas goes for this execution, it's hard to call it anything other than a modern day lynching.
Rodrick Reed It's exactly what it is. It's murder. In my eyes, they committed crimes when they convicted my brother, by withholding evidence, by not giving him a fair trial, by not testing all the DNA, and now they said, they're sides on taking his life and that is something that I cannot just sit back and say nothing or do nothing about. It is something that I have to with every fiber in my body, stand up against and just get a story, I had to do all that I can do. That's what me and my family, that's what we're striving to do, all that we can do.
Jason Flom You are doing all that you can do and it's become a major national news story and a major cause as more and more people have become aware that this is such a highly tragic miscarriage of justice, but also such an obvious miscarriage of justice.
Rodrick Reed Yes.
Jason Flom You've been out there. You've been meeting with everybody. You've been on TV shows. You've been with sister Helen. You've been crisscrossing the country dropping everything else that's important to you, to fight this fight. Yeah. My hat's off to you. How much hope do you have that justice will be delayed, but not denied in this case?
Rodrick Reed I'm very confident that after the world sees this, because on the back of my mom, I called my mom, when they convicted my brother on that day. She said, "You only do whatever you're going to try to do to my baby, but I guarantee you the whole world will know about it." When she said that, I didn't realize that that's really what it was going to take. I have great hope and faith and confidence that my brother will be vindicated and he's going to come home alive and well. I believe that, I have to believe that and I can't put nothing negative in my mind. I can't use my energy in that way.
Jason Flom I believe it too and there's so many good people involved in this fight now.
Rodrick Reed Yes, it is.
Jason Flom It's growing every day.
Rodrick Reed It's growing every day, every day.
Jason Flom Credit to you for driving that forward. Rodrick people are listening now, is somebody saying "Rodney, what can I do?"
Rodrick Reed First off, I tell everybody, contact Governor Greg Abbott. Okay, call his office. Write his office. Do the same with Ken Paxton, the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Contact them. Contact even Bryan Goertz, Bastrop County District Attorney's Office. Pass the word. Tell everybody. Tag everybody in all your social media sites. Help us get this word out. Tell the story. Tell the story. Refer people to our website, Facebook/ReedJusticeInitiative. That's defenders website. My mom Sandra Reed is the president. Get with us.
Jason Flom Once again that's Facebook.com/ReedJusticeInitiative, that's facebook.com/ReedJusticeInitiative. Go to innocenceproject.org Follow @innocenceproject on Instagram, posting about Rodney every day. I'm posting about him just about every day on my Instagram @itsjasonflom. I appreciate you being here to shed light on this terrible injustice and to try to raise more awareness. Maybe there's someone listening who knows the governor or who has an outreach, someone who's listening who can write an article or blog or do whatever it is, or raise attention, raise hell, because if not, it's going to be a very bad day in Texas and in America.
Jason Flom At this point, we have a feature in this show. It's my favorite part of the show. This is the part of the show that I call closing arguments. It's where, First of all, I thank you, Rodrick for coming to New York and being here in the studio with us, doing everything that you're doing. Now, I get to kick back and turn my microphone off and leave it up to you for what I call closing arguments.
Rodrick Reed What I want everybody to know is that Reed Justice Initiative is not just about Rodney, it's about other people that find themselves in a similar situation without getting justice, for not just for Rodney, but for Stacey. We want to help anybody out there that we can help along the way, but just know that right now, as we get right in the home, we will be there to help anybody that needs help in the capacity that we can. When we first started this thing it was all about Rodney. Now we see that, "Hey, there's a million other Rodneys out there. With the fine tenacity that we have in bringing Rodney home, we're going to have the same fine tenacity as we're seeking justice and abolishing the death bill. That's what we're going to do.
Jason Flom Amen. Once again, closing arguments with Bryce Benjet.
Bryce Benjet We at the Innocence Project are continuing to work on this case. Literally, we will be filing appeals in every court available and we will investigate leads so if there are folks out there who may know something who have not come forward, please reach out at the innocenceproject.org and there is a petition that you can sign up for, but you can also send an email generally, which will ultimately get to me about any information that you have. Again, this is an active investigation.
Jason Flom Www.innocenceproject.org, put Rodney Reed in the subject line, Bryce Benjet is our guest and is Rodney's lead attorney.
Bryce Benjet We will investigate information that we get. Obviously, this is a concern for everybody in our society because when we enforce a judgment like this, it is in the name of the people. If this is something that you are not comfortable with, and I don't think you should be, you should make your voice heard and stand up for what's right in a case like this.
Jason Flom Now with a heavy heart, but with optimism, I am going to introduce our featured guest, Rodney Reed.
Rodney Reed One thing that I really missed was really being a father to my kids and really to have an opportunity to be the grandfather to my grandchildren. I just look forward to being out there with my family, with my friends, with my loved one, with my supporters. I would really love to meet all my supporters, because I feel that the support that has been generated behind mem that's been a real push to keep me going. When I read their mail, read the letters, a lot of them I don't respond to, but then there's just so much mail I really don't have time to respond to all because I do have to get sleep. I try to get some sleep, but knowing that the people that are behind me, that are advocating for me, I can name them all, Julie, Judy, Tiffany, Mary Beth. They're my real push. My mom, my brothers, my granddaughter's beautiful smile, that keeps me, that inspires me when I see a beautiful smile. I look forward to holding them before they get too damn big. This so much. This is so much.
Rodney Reed On November 20, the State of Texas is trying to take my life, trying to execute me, it's tying me to a table and inject my body with poisons. Don't sit back and just let this happen. Just stay up, stay involved.
Bryce Benjet You know I'm a proud donor to the Innocence Project, and I really hope you'll join me in supporting this very important cause and in so doing helping to prevent future wrongful convictions. It's easy, go to innocenceproject.org, to learn how to donate and get involved. I want to thank our amazing producers, engineers and editors, Connor Hall and Kevin Wortis. The music and the show is by three time Oscar nominated composer Jay Ralph. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @wrongfulconviction and on Facebook at Wrongful Conviction Podcast. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good Podcasts in association with Signal Co No1 and PRX.