Celebrities like Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian West, and Rihanna have joined a growing chorus of supporters calling for the examination of new evidence in the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites before the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed, who has long maintained he was wrongly convicted.
On Friday, Beyoncé became one of the more than 300,000 people to add their names to a Change.org petition calling for a stay of Reed’s execution, which is scheduled for November 20.
Beyoncé also shared a link to the petition on her social media platforms and website.
In a message addressed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the pop superstar asks that he “take a hard look at the substantial evidence in the Rodney Reed case that points to his innocence. Be honest. Be fair. Give him back his life.”
She becomes the latest celeb to add their support to the campaign, which was previously publicized by the likes of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West, LL Cool J, actor Isaiah Washington, former NFL player Reggie Bush, and rapper Meek Mill, whose conviction on drug and gun charges was recently overturned after the rapper spent years in prison.
Millions more have signed a petition at FreeRodneyReed.com, calling for the new evidence to be reviewed before a potentially innocent man loses his life.
Stites was beaten, raped and strangled in Bastrop, Texas, on the night of April 22, 1996.
Reed’s defense attorneys alleged there is fresh eyewitness evidence to present in this case, and notes experts called in by the prosecution to help convict Reed in 1998 have since recanted their testimony.
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Reed, 51, has spent more than 21 years on death row. His lawyers last week filed an application for clemency in hopes it will halt the execution.
According to the petition, the state never tested the murder weapon for DNA evidence, and the jury selected to hear the case was all white.
Reed’s case is now the subject of the premiere episode of the ninth season of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, a podcast out now.
In the episode, Reed’s attorney, Bryce Benjet, discusses new evidence that has come to light in recent years, as well as the continuing battle to have the murder weapon and other crime scene evidence finally tested for DNA.
Lisa Tanner, a Texas deputy assistant attorney general who was the lead prosecutor for Reed’s case, issued a statement to CNN, saying there is a “large amount of credible evidence, including irrefutable DNA evidence, the testimony of witnesses, and the pattern Rodney Reed followed in committing his other sexual assaults” that “show beyond a reasonable doubt that he raped and murdered Stacey Stites.”