Things That Matter

Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

Rodney Reed is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but eight new witnesses have come forward to corroborate Reed’s claims that the victim was in an abusive relationship with convicted felon and former cop Jimmy Fennell. Nineteen-year-old Stacey Stites was murdered in April 1996 in Bastrop, Texas. A year later, a 29-year-old black man named Rodney Reed was arrested and charged with capital murder. The prosecution argued that the presence of Reed’s semen in Stites’ body was evidence of her brutal sexual assault and murder. The all-white jury sentenced Reed to die by lethal injection, currently scheduled for Nov. 20, 2019.

Now, eight witnesses have come forward to testify to Stites’ fear of fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, who was the initial person of interest in the crime. The witnesses believe that when Fennell learned that Stites was having a consensual affair with Reed, Fennell strangled her to death.

Rodney Reed is being represented by the Innocence Project.

Rodney Reed has always claimed his innocence, and that he and Stites were in a consensual relationship. Now, witnesses have come forward to prove it.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

At the time of Reed’s trial, nobody would testify to their consensual relationship. Now, two witnesses have come forward to recall Stites’ own account of her relationships with Reed and with her abusive fiancé, Fennell. One of those witnesses is Rebecca Peoples, who worked with Stites at an H-E-B grocery store. As any friendly co-workers do, Stites and Peoples confided in each other. Stites told Peoples that “she was having a relationship with a black man,” and that “she was afraid of her fiancé,” according to the most recent Writ of Habeas Corpus. Peoples never shared her testimony because she “did not realize that it was important and no one ever approached [her].”  

In addition, Stites’ own family and friends, Alicia Slater, Lee Roy Ybarra and Calvin “Buddy” Horton, have come forward to attest to the knowledge of a relationship between Stites and Reed.

The prosecution portrayed Stites’ engagement as “happy,” but new sworn testimony reveals that Fennell was abusive to Stites.

Credit: @S_PaceXM / Twitter

Former Bastrop County Sherriff’s Office Deputy, Richard Derleth, has come forward to recall what other H.E.B. employees shared with him at the time of Stites death. “Members of the [H.E.B.] staff would keep a lookout for Jimmy Fennell to see if he would come into the store,” Derleth said during sworn testimony. “They told
me that if they saw Jimmy coming into the store, they would tell Stacey
and she would run and hide from Jimmy” for fear “he would start a fight with her.” Derleth shared the information with “some members of the
Sheriff’s Office” but is “not sure what was done with the information.”

William Sappington lived below Fennel and Stites’ apartment. His son, Brent, has testified that he overheard “screaming and banging” upstairs. Brent’s wife, Vicki, recalled that her father-in-law “expressed concern that Mr. Fennell was verbally abusive toward Ms. Stites, that he feared Mr. Fennell was also
physically abusive, and that he had reported his concerns to local
law enforcement, but officers dismissed his concerns.”

Jimmy Fennell served a 10-year sentence after kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while on duty as a police officer.

Credit: @MutantLifeForce / Twitter

In 2008, Fennell pled guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he had been dispatched to protect. He also pled guilty to attempting to cover it up by threatening to kill the woman if she told anyone. While he was imprisoned, he sought protection from Arthur Snow, a member of the “whites-only” Aryan Brotherhood at the prison. “Jimmy said he needed protection from the blacks and Mexicans at the
prison,” Snow said in sworn testimony. 

Fennell traded commissary for protection, and later, while in the rec yard, Snow recalls a troubling conversation. Fennell started talking about Stites “with a lot of
hatred and resentment. Jimmy said his fiancé had been sleeping around
with a black man behind his back. By the way Jimmy spoke about this
experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him. Toward the end of the
conversation, Jimmy said confidently, “I had to kill my n****-loving
fiancé.”

Nearly 3 million Americans have signed a petition calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to delay Reed’s execution.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

Reed has maintained his innocence since day one. The murder weapon, a belt used for strangulation, has never been tested for DNA, despite multiple requests by Reed’s attorneys, all of which have been denied. Reed has been imprisoned for 21 years.

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

Photo via Getty Images

The GOP’S voter-suppression tactics in Georgia have been gripping the nation. But now, the media is also turning its attention to other voter-suppression tactics in the rest of the country. Now, Texas Republicans are taking the heat.

According to Common Cause Texas, Texas Republicans are planning on recruiting thousands of volunteers create an “election integrity brigade”. They want the “brigade” to go into Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston and “fight voter fraud”.

A Texas GOP presentation was leaked that outlined plans to send an “army” of poll-watchers to Black and brown precincts.

“I’m trying to encourage and recruit, as a precinct chair, about 30 people in my precinct who will have the confidence and courage to come down in here…,” said an unnamed GOP official, pointing to majority non-white urban areas, “…in these areas where we really need poll-workers. Because this is where the problem is occuring.”

“So me finding poll-watchers out here, it helps, but it’s a pretty safe precinct”. He said this while pointing to majority-white Houston neighborhoods.

The video inspired outrage among people who saw these tactics as blatant attempts to suppress the voting rights of POC.

“The impetus for releasing [the video] right now is there are some bills in the legislature that seek to empower poll watchers in some really scary ways,” said executive director of Common Cause Texas, Anthony Gutierrez, to NBC News. “And also at the same time, take away the power of the presiding judge at the poll site from being able to remove a disruptive poll watcher.”

“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and Brown neighborhoods,” said Gutierrez to The Washington Post.

“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” he added. Why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?”

This “election integrity brigade” comes on the heels of a problematic election bill the Texas Senate just passed.

According to NBC News, the bill “bans overnight early voting and drive-thru early voting” and also “empowers partisan poll watchers.”

“It’s part of the intimidation, the confusion, the antics that (the Republican Party) has engaged in for so many generations that culminated in President Trump asking people to overturn the election,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to CNN.

“What they’re doing is filing bills that are essentially a poll tax that weaponize the election system against our own voters,” she continued. “And what they’re proposing is absolutely tragic and reminiscent of the worst of what we’ve seen in Texas and across the South since Reconstruction.”

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

Like many street vendors, 45-year-old Lorenzo Pérez sold food to support his family.

Married and the father of four children ages 15, 13, 9, and 1, Perez is described by friends and family as being well known amongst neighborhood residents. He was often seen working alongside his daughter who helped him on occasion. Now, the community and family who knew Perez well are in mourning, after he was shot in broad daylight while doing his job.

Perez died after he being shot in the head in southeast Fresno on Sunday afternoon.

Fresno Police were called to the scene of a possible robbery at Alta and Pierce Avenues, near Kings Canyon and Willow around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. On the way to the scene, the police officers learned that a street vendor had been shot once in the head.

According to reports, Perez was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center where he ultimately died.

Witnesses of the murder told officers that a man had beckoned Perez to come over to him in a way that suggested he was going to purchase something from him.

According to police reports, when Perez walked up to the suspect, the man pulled out a gun and shot the vendor. He then stole a few items, which have not been identified, and flew the scene. Witnesses told police officers that they’d seen the man loitering around the area before the shooting.

A local news station reported that “Officers are now looking into surveillance footage from the area to try and identify the shooter… Through a statement, Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez announced that he will be offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.”

“The coward that murdered our food vendor, turn yourself in and face the consequences. You’ve brought tremendous pain to a family and our city,” Chavez exclaimed in the statement.

To help the Perez family, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria set up a GoFundMe account which has already raised $141,780 out of its $125,000 goal.

Perez’s son, Isai, described his father in a recent interview as a “great man.”

“My father was a great man. He was a great father, a great husband, a great friend,” he said in an interview. “He spread love and kindness. He was about fairness, he wanted to share his happiness. He meant no harm. He didn’t deserve to go like this. The person who killed my dad took away a part of me. My dad went through everything for us. He took away my father. He took away the opportunity of me being with him in his last moments and it’s heartbreaking. I hope they find the murderer soon.”

If you have any information on the shooting please call Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

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