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Supreme Court denies Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed's appeal

The United States Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed. But while the petition for a review of his case was denied, Justice Sonia Sotomayor left the door open for further appeals pending the outcome of upcoming hearings. 

"There is no escaping the pall of uncertainty over Reed's conviction," Sotomayor wrote.

Reed, now 51, was found guilty of the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites and has spent over 20 years in prison. Reed was originally scheduled to be executed on November 20, 2019, but was granted an indefinite stay just days before following petitions from Reed's attorneys citing evidence that he is innocent.

Attorneys with the Innocence Project alleged prosecutors in Reed's 1998 trial withheld exculpatory evidence and relied on incorrect scientific testimony to convict him.

"In the instant petition for a writ of certiorari, Reed has presented a substantial body of evidence that, if true, casts doubt on the veracity and scientific validity of the evidence on which Reed's conviction rests," Sotomayor wrote. "Misgivings this ponderous should not be brushed aside even in the least consequential of criminal cases; certainly they deserve sober consideration when a capital conviction and sentence hang in the balance."

"While the Court today declines to review the instant petition, it of course does not pass on the merits of Reed's innocence or close the door to future review," Sotomayor added.

The Innocence Project said they are preparing for Reed's upcoming hearings, where they hope he will be granted a new trial.

"Following the Supreme Court's decision, the Innocence Project has renewed its call for the Texas Attorney General's Office and Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz to agree to DNA testing of the murder weapon and other evidence. The Innocence Project would pay for this testing and share the results with the state, leaving no reason for the state to continue to oppose testing efforts," the Innocence Project said Monday.

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