Five Days Before Scheduled Death, Court Stops Execution of Rodney Reed—and Kanye West Was There Holding a Secret Revival Outside of Jailhouse

Photo: Evan Agostini (AP)

It happened in Texas!

Yesterday.

The power of social justice, social media and major celebrity has worked in the favor of death row inmate Rodney Reed, who was scheduled for execution on Nov. 20.

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On Friday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously recommended delaying his execution after new evidence has come to light in his 1998 conviction for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites.

The parole board unanimously recommended a 120-day reprieve for Reed and Kim Kardashian West was by his side when he received the good news.

“Today, I had the honor of meeting #RodneyReed in person and the privilege of sitting with him when he got the news that the highest court in Texas had issued a stay of execution and remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration,” the social media and reality TV star tweeted Friday night.

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According to the Houston Chronicle, Kardashian West sat with the condemned prisoner and his legal team at the Polunksy Unit in Livingston for two hours.

Kardashian has repeatedly used her social media/celebrity influence (or clout) to push for clemency in the case, helping spark national interests in what has been considered the latest example of a miscarriage of justice.

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In 1998, an all-white jury found Reed (who is black) guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering the 19-year-old white woman, whom according to the Innocence Project, he was romantically involved with.

Stites was engaged to be married to local police officer Jimmy Fennell—who witnesses recently said confessed to having “to kill my [n-word]-loving fiancée.” (Fennell is white.)

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Reed supporters pleaded for a much deeper investigation into the murder—and possible corruption—asking Governor Greg Abbott to spare his life.

“How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest,” Kardashian tweeted to the lawmaker last month. “I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING.”

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The board’s decision will now go to the governor, who has been facing escalating public pressure as the execution date - this Wednesday - drew closer.

Texas runs the nation’s busiest death chamber, the New York Times reported. Since December 1982, the Lone Star Sate has executed 566 men and women, more than any other.

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Also on Friday, Kanye West held a secret performance for inmates at the Harris County Jail in Houston, Texas.

During the event, which has been described as “part rap concert, part revival meeting,” the holy-rolling, Trump supporting 21-time Grammy Award winner sang “I want Jesus to walk with me” and told male and female inmates: “I accept Jesus as my lord and savior,”

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Reed’s friend Tiffany McMillan, who has been on the frontlines with his family fighting for justice applauded the halt of Wednesday’s execution.

It was she who started the change.org petition that set off the #FreeRodneyReed campaign, gaining more than half million signatures in the process.

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“It’s welcome news that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended delaying Rodney Reed’s execution by 120 days,” they said in a statement.

“But now Governor Abbott must do the right thing. This precious time will allow Rodney’s lawyers to advocate for him to be exonerated, and could prevent an innocent man, my friend, from being executed for a crime he didn’t commit,” the domestic advocate said.

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Change.org executive Molly Dorenzenski said Reed’s good news “shows the incredible power of people’s voices.”

“Tiffany, backed by more than half a million signers, is part of movement too loud to ignore, that includes Beyonce, Oprah and many more celebrities and elected officials, all asking Governor Abbott to free Rodney Reed,” she continued. “Now those people will be watching Governor Abbott to see if he does the right thing.”

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!