published: 24 May 2021
On April 23, 1996, the body of a woman was found hidden in the bushes along a rural road in Bastrop, Texas. The investigation revealed she had been beaten, raped and strangled.
Stacey Stites, 19, was weeks away from marrying her fiance, Jimmy Fennell, a local police officer, when her body was discovered.
Prosecutors quickly turned their attention to Rodney Reed, then 28, after his DNA was recovered from Stites’ body, according to the New York Times. After first denying any involvement, Reed admitted to having an affair with Stites, which is discussed on Monday night’s episode of People Magazine Investigates: Is Rodney Reed Innocent?, airing at 10 ET/9 CT on Investigation Discovery and streaming on discovery+. (An exclusive clip is shown here).
Prosecutors pursued the case despite Reed’s claims that he was in a consensual relationship with Stites. In 1998, a Texas jury convicted Reed of capital murder and sentenced him to death row, where he maintained his innocence.
On Nov. 20, 2019, Reed was scheduled to be executed when the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott grant Reed a 120-day reprieve, according to the Times. Later, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals blocked Reed’s execution and his execution has been suspended indefinitely