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UT students, supporters protest for Rodney Reed's release

University of Texas students and members of a group campaigning for the release of a Bastrop man on death row met Saturday afternoon to protest outside the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals building.

Twenty people dressed in black and held signs spelling “Justice for Rodney Reed.”

The protest follows a four-day hearing this week to determine whether Reed, who was convicted of murdering Stacey Stites in 1996, deserves another trial after a friend of her fiancé gave an interview that conflicts with a known timeline surrounding her death.

Curtis Davis, a friend of Stites’ fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, told CNN in 2016 that Fennell said he went out to drink the night of her death “and returned to the Giddings apartment he shared with Stites after she had fallen asleep.”

Davis’ account contradicts Fennell, who had said he was home with Stites the night before her death until she left for work in the early morning of April 23, the day she was found strangled and raped in Bastrop County.

A forensic pathologist testified Wednesday, though, that Stites was dead before midnight on April 22, 1996, a day before her body was discovered, which might mean someone else killed her. The pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, also testified that there was “absolutely no evidence” of rape.

Visiting Judge Doug Shaver said he will need six to eight weeks before making a recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

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