A Bastrop man's death row case is headed to federal court.
Judges with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear 30 minutes worth of arguments Dec. 4 on the trial and conviction of Rodney Reed. Reed was sentenced to death for the 1996 rape and murder of Stacy Stites.
In 2009, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected arguments by Reed’s defense that new evidence pointed to Stites' former fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, as the murderer. It was Reed’s sixth and final appeal to the Texas appellate court.
During his appeals, Reed’s defense attorneys argued prosecutors in the original trial withheld an important eyewitness and relevant testimony. Also, they cite DNA tested from a beer can at the crime scene pointed to Fennell, who was a Giddings police officer at the time of Stites' death.
"We believe it was a conspiracy to protect a police officer," Sandra Reed, Rodney Reed’s mother, told YNN in 2008.
In an unrelated case, Fennell was sent to prison in 2009 for improper sexual activity with a woman that he arrested while he served as a sergeant with Georgetown Police Department.