The Supreme Court said Monday it would hear the case of Rodney Reed, a Texas death row inmate who has long claimed his innocence in the 1996 murder of a woman.
Mr. Reed, who was convicted of capital murder in 1998 in the murder of the Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, has tried to challenge the constitution of a statute for DNA testing in Texas. Mr. Reed’s lawyers have pushed for the murder weapon – Ms. Stites’ belt – to be tested for DNA evidence, a step they say will prove his innocence.
Mr. Reed has appealed a decision by the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals, which dismissed his claim in May, saying the statute of limitations for him to seek DNA testing on evidence in his case had expired.
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the case is the latest twist in Mr. Reeds life in prison. A court in Texas stopped his execution in 2019 after his case attracted intense interest from lawmakers and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna, who called on the courts and the governor to spare his life.
It was unclear on Monday when the Supreme Court would consider Mr. Already sag. His lawyers and attorneys in Texas who were fighting to dismiss his claim did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Ms. Stites, 19, was reported missing on April 23, 1996, after she failed to arrive at her morning watch at a grocery store. A passerby found Ms. Stites’ body along a country road later that day, according to court documents. Prosecutors said she had also been raped, and Mr. Reed was arrested mainly based on DNA tests.
Mr. Reed has said he had an affair with Ms. Stites, which would explain why his DNA was found from her body. Mr. Reed’s lawyers say witnesses have confirmed the two had an affair and that new evidence has emerged in recent years indicating that Mrs Stites’ fiancée may be suspected of her murder.
A Texas judge recommended in November that Mr. Reed was not to receive a new trial, and he sent his case back to the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.