Archive | February 25, 2015

CCA Issues Stay of Execution for Rodney Reed

The Texas Tribune

Death row inmate Rodney Reed, scheduled to be executed on March 5, 2015.

Death row inmate Rodney Reed, scheduled to be executed on March 5, 2015.

A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday issued a stay of execution for death row inmate Rodney Reed so new evidence can be considered that Reed’s attorneys say proves their client’s innocence.

Reed, 47, was set to be executed on March 5. Six of the court’s nine judges voted for the stay. Presiding Judge Sharon Keller and Judge Lawrence E. Meyers dissented, and Judge David Newell did not participate in the decision.

“We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence,” said Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project who is Reed’s attorney. “We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.

Reed’s attorneys on Feb. 13 asked the court to consider new witness testimony and forensic evidence they say proves that Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old Giddings cashier, was likely killed hours earlier than previously thought and that her body was moved after she was killed.

If true, those findings significantly challenge the timeline prosecutors used to convict Reed of Stites’ murder during his 1998 criminal trial.

The Bastrop court denied the stay, moving the case to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

At the time of trial, the state’s theory of the crime was that Stites was abducted, raped and murdered early in the morning of April 23. But the new affidavits filed by Reed’s defense team put the time of death the night before, on April 22.

Reed has said he was having an affair with Stites, who was engaged to former police officer Jimmy Lewis Fennell Jr., but did not kill her.

Fennell has since been convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 20-year-old Williamson County woman. At Reed’s trial, Fennell had testified that he and Stites were together the evening of April 22.

Begging (American Style)

In far flung countries begging is a custom, our developing, American definition, pieces of indigenous lands unless you have no land on which to live.

In the U.S., in the big cities and maybe in rural areas, too,  homeless folks beg for spare change, or barter their work for food, etc.—on street corners, under viaducts, wherever they can find empty space they occupy, squatters on public domains, their weapons are signs of begging, only we are a little embarrassed by the term, and sad faces, I feel so sad for them, knowing I could just as easily be there myself/entertaining the people in cars, now entertaining could equal begging, American-style.

Immigrant workers stand on curbs or at busy intersections, in clumps, they ain’t no chumps, they be just begging for a job today—survival worries—take it one day at a time—that’s all the energy any of us has, what we have now, not so fine, and furiously fine.

I’ve begged in Berkeley in the Mid-Sixties—easier then, because I was selling the Berkeley Barb, the daily news of dissent.

Now I’m begging for people to buy my poetry, or my leather products—cut off/cut off unemployment benefits due to a label given to me by the State—misconduct—it’s done, not filling a monthly quota is misconduct, rather hostile & abrupt, scheduling problems, targeted by the political system of an entity whose stated aim is to deal ethically, they hide beyond the wall, wrapped in gauze of serving the needs of the Mentally Ill/no surprise.

What about my needs for dignity and equity and justice?  I also have a Mental Health diagnosis, don’t I count?  Can’t learn anything when my boss threatened to kill me in her multiple-personality way, PTSD retriggered, I’m awash in symptoms.  Was this my fate or my Karma?

So, now, no coins jingling in my pockets, or bills in my wallet, unless I sell my poetry, you see, by begging, American-style, luckily as a poet I have my craft, my greatest earthly joy/my products are me.  It’s a trip when you’ve had a job all your life, or most of it—now this prop has split, gone.

Selling my poetic discourse under a tree.

But what’s up with me?  Lots of black crow feathers in my mouth—tastes like one sick bird, lots of bending & stooping and the humble pie is rancid vomit.

Everyone’s got to beg someday, so don’t be too proud to beg, OK?  Good to give away all you got, good to receive as well.

© Christopher Bear-Beam July 25, 2011