BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — “I’m very optimistic about the team that I have.”
That’s how death-row inmate Rodney Reed feels about his upcoming evidentiary hearing in Bastrop beginning on Monday, which could grant him a new trial. Reed’s family and his supporters gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon, where Reed was able to talk with them through speakerphone from jail.
Campaigners for Reed argue he was wrongfully convicted of murdering Stacey Stites in Bastrop in 1996. Reed has been on death row for more than 20 years.
His mother Sandra and brother Rodrick were among the speakers at the rally, which began at 3 p.m. outside the Bastrop County Courthouse.
“I wanted to gather here, because this is where it started. This is where they convicted him, in this courtroom,” Rodrick said Saturday. “Because hopefully, it’ll end here, right here in Bastrop with justice, not just for Rodney, but for Stacey, for you and me and everybody involved.”
Reed said on the phone he’s blessed with a solid defense team he believes will bring that justice.
“Everything is going at its own pace. We’ll get there when we get there,” Reed said.
Among Reed’s supporters in the room was Dallas attorney Lee Merritt, who recently launched his campaign for Texas Attorney General against incumbent Ken Paxton.
“Your endorsement is my most proudest endorsement,” Merritt told Reed over the phone.
Merritt has represented the families of Black people killed by police officers.
“You and families like yours are the ones we’re fighting for,” he continued.
Reed was moved to Bastrop County Jail earlier this month for his hearing, brother Rodrick confirmed to KXAN. The hearing is slated to last two weeks.
This week, Reed’s attorneys claimed prosecutors withheld information at his trial from witnesses who spoke about a possible consensual relationship between Stites and Reed, according to court filings.
The attorneys claim the letters show the state had information at least hinting at a relationship between the pair. Reed’s attorney said his defense team was entitled to those summaries and the underlying information 23 years ago.
Reed was scheduled to be executed in 2019, but the Texas Court of Appeals granted an indefinite stay at the last minute.
He said over the phone Saturday he’s thankful to talk with family and friends he hasn’t spoken to in years.