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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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Things That Matter

Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook

Texas police are currently trying to get to the bottom of a disturbing incident that happened in Raymondville on Monday.

Former Republican candidate for Texas state Senate, Vanessa Tijerina, posted a shocking 10-minute Facebook Live video detailing the brutal assault she experienced in a nearby hotel on Monday.

Tijerina appeared in the video with her face looking unrecognizable. She had two black eyes–both of which were swollen almost completely shut.

Her face was covered in bruises. Her speech was impaired from how much swelling she was experiencing. It looked–to be blunt–like she had been beaten to a pulp.

Through tears, Tijerina explained to her followers that she was lured to a hotel room by some unnamed assailants who led her to believe they had “something really really really important” to tell her that they couldn’t tell her over the phone.

But once she was alone in the hotel room, the assailants “gagged, bound [and] tortured” her.

“I was beaten. I was terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured,” she said in the Facebook Live video.

“I never fought back because I knew that if I fought back, it would’ve been worse and I probably wasn’t going to survive. And I needed to survive for my daughters.”

Although a motive for the assault hasn’t yet been established, Tijerina is a relatively high-profile figure in Texas’s Raymondville community. She is active on social media and regularly goes on Facebook live to engage with her followers and supporters. And with her high profile comes a litany of critics and haters who have created troll accounts with the express purpose of smearing her.

Despite all this, Tijerina refutes the rumors that she “did something” to motivate the beating.

“There was nothing that I did that made this okay for this to happen to me,” she said. Tijerina began to get increasingly more emotional as she talked about her children and the fact that she was not able to give her children the toys she bought them for Christmas.

So far, Raymondville police have arrested three suspects in connection to the assault: Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. As for who was on the phone giving orders at the time of the assault, police are still looking for answers.

As of this writing, the police have not yet publicly revealed a motive. But since her attack, Tijerina has again taken to her Facebook page to assert that the assault was “100% motivated by hate.”

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