Supreme Court rules in favor of death row inmate who sought new DNA testing

The Supreme Court ruled that Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, who was convicted of murdering a young grocery store clerk in 1996, can obtain new DNA testing.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Rodney Reed a Texas inmate who is currently on death row for the 1996 murder of a young clerk at a grocery store, has a second chance to obtain new DNA tests.

Reed was convicted for the rape of Stacey Stites (19 years old), who was strangled and killed in Bastrop County Texas.

On a 6-3 vote, the court overturned an earlier court ruling which said Reed had waited far too long before making his request. Reed has maintained his innocence for a long time.

According to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion, the federal court window of two years for filing civil rights claims only begins counting down once state court proceedings have been completed.

Kavanaugh wrote that “in Reed’s case the state’s alleged refusal to provide Reed a fundamentally faire process was completed when the state litigation concluded and Reed lost his claimed liberty interest in DNA tests.”

This case caused a split in the court that was unusual. Kavanaugh, along with three liberals, and two conservatives (Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett) were the majority. Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch were the three other conservative justices who dissented.

Alito wrote in his opinion that the majority was “clearly incorrect” about when the clock begins to tick and asked if it would be fair to require defendants to file their claims earlier.

Parker Rider-Longmaid said that Reed’s lawyer, Parker Rider Longmaid, in a press release, the ruling is a “critical move toward the ultimate goal to get DNA testing.”

This testing will include evidence from the crime scene that has never been analyzed before, including the belt worn by the killer.

In the weeks before his scheduled execution in November 2019, Reed’s claim of innocence was championed by celebrities including reality TV star Kim Kardashian, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and singer Rihanna.

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