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Execution Date Set For Rodney Reed

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 06:44 PM CDT

A judge has set the execution date for the man accused of raping and strangling a 19-year-old woman in 1996 in Bastrop County.

Rodney Reed is set to be executed on January 14, 2015.

Family members say they're heartbroken but will continue to fight to free him. A family member of Stacey Stites, his supposed victim, was also the courtroom. She said Reed is innocent and this just wrong.

On April 23, 1996 the body of 19-year-old Stacey Stites was found raped and strangled in a wooded area next to a Bastrop County dirt road. She had disappeared the day before after leaving Giddings for her 3:30 a.m. shift at the H-E-B store in Bastrop.  She was to get married in three weeks. 

The case remained unsolved for almost a year until Rodney Reed was charged with capital murder. The Bastrop County Sheriff's Office said semen collected from Stites' body matched Reed. 

Reed, of Bastrop, was in jail on a cocaine charge.

He went on trial for the murder and claimed there was a DNA match because he had a consensual sexual relationship with Stites. They also pointed the finger at Stites' fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a Giddings police officer.

On May 19, 1998 an all-white jury convicted Reed, a black man, and sentenced him to death.

Reed's appellate attorneys have filed multiple appeals before state and federal courts. All have been denied.

In September 2008 Fennell, a Georgetown police officer, was convicted of kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a woman in his custody. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In October 2012 the man who did the autopsy on Stites' body, former Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo, recanted part of his testimony. He now challenges the prosecutions use of the time of death and says sperm found could have been deposited days before her death. 

Execution Date Set For Rodney Reed

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