‘What Happened to Justice?’: Rodney Reed’s Mother Responds to Supreme Court Decision Denying Her Son Access to DNA Testing

By Innocence Staff

Sandra Reed with Innocence Project Staff Attorney Bryce Benjet, who is one of Rodney Reed's attorneys.

“The state of Texas still wants to take my son’s life,” reads the first sentence of Sandra Reed’s opinion piece in the Statesman about her son, Innocence Project client Rodney Reed, who has served more than 20 years on death row for a murder for which he maintains his innocence.

On June 25, 2018, the United States Supreme Court denied Mr. Reed’s petition to review the denial of his request for access to DNA testing by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. DNA testing, Mr. Reed and his attorneys argue, could provide dispositive proof of his innocence.

Related: Expert Witnesses Admit Error in Case of Rodney Reed who has Served 22 Years on Texas Death Row, Prompting New Appeal

Additional appeals raising new forensic evidence of Mr. Reed’s innocence remain pending.

“A world-renowned pathologist testified that my son couldn’t have committed the murder. But the state of Texas refuses to DNA test all the evidence,” writes Ms. Reed.

Ms. Reed recounts how DNA was used to convict her son even though it had nothing to do with the murder. But not all of the DNA reports were presented to the jury. For example, Ms. Reed recalls a DNA report hidden from the jury that revealed beer cans found at the scene excluded Mr. Reed and implicated two police officers and the victim. “Why not test the remaining evidence?” Ms. Reed pleads.

Related: Innocence Project Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Denial of Cert Petition in Case of Rodney Reed

Ms. Reed contends there was no proof her son was involved in the murder. Without definitive proof, why does the state of Texas want to execute her son? In her words: “Why is Texas determined to take my son’s life based on old DNA, seemingly corrupt cops, lawyers, and yes, all of the state’s experts who said my son was guilty have since recanted their testimony. There is no proof, all that remains is the age-old prejudice that a white girl wouldn’t be involved with my son.”

In addition to so-called evidence Ms. Reed cites, she considers the intangible factors that led to her son’s conviction: “Tell me, what happened to the reasonable doubt? What happened to compassion? What happened to empathy? What happened to justice? My son didn’t receive any of the above.”

Mr. Reed’s experience has made her realize that her son isn’t the only innocent person on death row; there are many innocent people, like her son, waiting to be executed. As a result, Ms. Reed is now an advocate for death penalty abolition and, on a broader scope, for a justice system that “seek[s] the truth.”

Rodney Reed

Send Mr. Reed a note of encouragement as he fights to prove his innocence.


  1. Andrea Sims

    Mr. Reed,

    I believe you are innocent. I have been wrongfully accused by my neighbors for something I did not do, so I understand this can happen to anyone. My own experience has changed my point of view (especially about the death penalty) because people don’t realize that false testimony has the potential to send someone to their death.

    I have become a supporter of the Innocence Project and am hoping to volunteer to help others. I have contacted Governor Abbott’s office via email to voice my support on your behalf. I wish you and your family the best. I know you have a lot of people supporting you.


    Andrea Sims

  2. Mary Mapel

    You will be free one day. Stay strong.

  3. Joy Augenstern

    Oh my God, how can this still be happening. What can the ulterior motive be. How can DNA testing be refused in this day and age. So, who do you think committed the murder, probably the state will be guilty of a double murder by not allowing the truth to be told.

  4. Barbara Kropf

    I am in Canada and have heard your story. Continue to be brave. Sending prayers and loving thoughts your way. ❤️

  5. Rebecca Smith

    Mr. Reed,
    You deserve to be freed and people are working to that end. You have a wonderful champion in your mother and she has inspired many to help her.
    So many of us want your release.
    Rebecca Smith

  6. Mary Davidson

    I hope and pray that you get justice Mr Reed. Do not give up hope. So many people over the world supporting you.

  7. Gail Colby

    God willing, the judges will see the light of their errors and grant the DNA test. Good luck and God Bless you.

  8. renelationsbook Meeks

    Seeking justice for the oppressed is a command that God gives us all/ But liberty and justice for some like Rodney is placed on stall. Learn to do right; seek justice and defend the oppressed says, Isa one & 17/ But Bastrop and Texas courts with unjust laws, refuse to obey God, because justice for Rodney is yet to be seen. “There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law, and in the name of justice, said Montesquieu/ And Rodney’s case is a perfect example of what the abuse of power with lies can do. Many have seen the news and videos about the injustice in this case/And everyone responsible for this injustice will stand before God’s face. Evil men don’t understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand/ That DNA testing and whatever it takes should be done to prove the innocence of a man.
    The Bible say what sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws. Because their hands are stained with blood and their fingers with sin/ Their tongue utters malicious words and their lips speak lies again and again. God said Don’t follow a crowd in wrongdoing and do not testify in a lawsuit to divert justice, Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die/ And don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know when that’s a lie. We are all under the hand of God, and sooner or later we will give an account for what we have done, in this life, and to think otherwise, is foolishness and insanity/ And we have a chance to do what’s right and decide where we spend Eternity.

  9. Katie Ayala

    Mr Reed,

    Never give up. Never, ever give up. Just as much as you deserve your friend the victim in this case has a family who deserve to know who actually killed their loved one. Fight not only for yourself but for them too. I hope you get your freedom very soon Mr Reed. Don’t let this setback cripple you. Let it be a catipolt for you, a second wind to motivate you and see you through your next battle as I am sure there will be many more battles you need to fight. I know you will win the war Mr Reed. Just keep smiling and keep swimming. You got this.

  10. Alison Dieter

    One item which seems to have escaped examination in this case involves DNA which is missing from the crime scene. The scrapings from under Stacy Stites’ fingernails. Missing because there were no fingernails. They had been cut off to the quick – by someone who knew there was DNA there which could implicate him. And who would that have been? Certainly not a clueless rapist/murderer. But, most certainly, a well-informed police officer. For that, plus other suppressed DNA evidence and the testimony of witnesses intimidated by the police, an innocent man is facing execution, having spent half of his life in solitary confinement for something he most certainly did not do.

  11. James Bland

    Rodney I just seen the T.V. show on HLN about your case and I just want to say stay strong in the end it will all work out for you and your mom. If this case doesn’t scream reasonable doubt no case does.

  12. Charles Jones

    Mr Rodney Reed ..I hope everyday god is with you stay strong keep your head I believe you are innocent ..I’m from shilo my brothers are lee Barnett Bobby Barnett I’m Charles Jones grandma is Callie foster .. you will be out by Jan I love you ..god bless you

  13. Lucia Johnson

    fight for justice don’t stop even with seconds to go, because that is the only way you can help abolish this sick use of power and privilege. If there is one innocent person on death row it is proof that the system does not work and you can not ask anyone to pay the ultimate price with a broken system.

    Good luck from Australia where the last man executed was in 1968 and there were questions around whether he was guilty of the crime that led him to the gallows. After that Australia and Australians determined that the death penalty was wrong and should never be used again. Soon after it was abolished in all states for good.


    Dear Mr. Reed,
    You don’t know me, but I read about your Mom on Facebook and the Innocence Project article about your actual innocence. You are SO fortunate to have loved ones who are rooting for you and trying to get the word out to the media for your sake! Her efforts brought me to write this note to you tonight so late.
    You see ten years ago, I, too, was falsely accused of a crime I did NOT commit, and I was wrongfully convicted, also. I spent time wrongfully incarcerated, also. I know how hard it is to be seen as a criminal when you KNOW God knows that you have NOT committed ANY crime! I can only say that I am in accompaniment with you spiritually, my Brother. You have my arm around your shoulder in an embrace. I hope this provides you with a moment of Peace?
    I don’t know what will shake it all loose for you, whether it will be a guardian angel who protects you somehow or the Holy Spirit acting as a shield, but I believe that God sees the evil which those guards, those prosecutors, and those policemen have done wrongfully to you. All those who lied about you are known to the Universe. KArma?Somehow, I pray that all this will touch the hearts and very souls of those who cause you hurt, and they will be troubled in their sleep and dream dreams which bring about change in their actions, and which may ultimately set you free!
    Meanwhile, as you wait for Justice and Release, I pray for you to do your OWN releasing. I can see in your smile and sparkle in your eyes that you have a good sense of humor. I can tell you are a Good person! I know it is the last thing you’d want to do, but I pray that you can dig deep and find the Beauty, the Kindness, the Love that IS STILL within YOUR soul. That you can breathe away the anger and hurt to sense the safety and power of an Eternal Love which fills every cell of your Whole body, and then SHARE that glow as you breathe out every heart breath. That YOU become that Beauty, that Kindness, and that powerful Love which fills every bit of you and overflows to become a Light for others all around you to see, to feel, to sense, and to experience.
    Perhaps you have already been doing this? For you ARE INNOCENT and Good! You are not to be vilified, but you are to be known for the purity of Spirit you are and you hold within you! I pray as we Quakers do, that you feel me Hold you in the Light! You are a Blessing to yourself as you help heal yourself from the anger of wrongful incarceration! You are a Blessing to all others around you, as you become the Light and Goodness which they need to see and come to know DOES exist. This Light exists in YOU, in me, and you can provide the proof such Light exists within us all!
    I did NOT ever expect to be arrested wrongfully out of the blue or spend time in a prison for a crime NOT committed; I do know that I had to listen and every breath became a prayer. I was spending more time in closeness in a state of meditation and prayer spiritually than I ever had in my life Outside. I was a teacher, a mother, a wife, a “busy” professional who had not taken time out for listening for God all that often, previously. In prison, I had time to listen. I had time to ask questions and act from Goodness and compassion, if that is what arose, as I saw the hurting world of prison around me so desperately needing Light.
    This was just MY experience before I was released and won my Appeal. I apologize if I have presumed or overstepped any boundaries, for your struggle and experience is yours and yours alone. Blessings to you throughout your prison journey! I wish all Good and Blessings be yours, Mr. Reed!

  15. Brittany Lynn

    I believe that you are innocent and have so many people in your corner. I pray that justice will be served for the person who actual committed this crime that has been free for over 20 years while your whole family has been torn apart due to an injust system, racism, and corrupt officials. I just can’t believe the judges still will not test the new DNA evidence which means they must be scared of something i.e for locking up the wrong person. I will pray for you and your mother and also for Stacey`s family and friends. God bless and stay strong

  16. Jeffrey Neves

    DNA test must be allowed, for it is in the best interest of Justice!


    Hang in there brother, my prayers are with you.

  17. Cymone Dior

    This breaks my heart. I just watched your story. I hope all prevails for you and your family. One day Justice will be served. ❤️

  18. T Barry

    May Allah bless. Brother Rodney would be in heaven. God will take account for thus injustice.

  19. Linda G


    Keep your head up and know that you will one day be free. God is with you and know that there a people praying for you during this time . Always remember that you will be free and Jesus will guide you through it all .

    I will be at the event for you in Bastrop Tx on Sept 8 2018.

    Keep your head up Rodney. Much love ..


  20. Bill Pelke

    Stay strong Rodney! You have many friends and supporters. Many people are praying for you. May God grant you Peace and Mercy.

  21. Sunitha Patel

    Hi – I watched your story on our local cable TV last night, I am based in South Africa. It is truly horrific and sad to see such injustice! I think all countries have this disgusting unfairness, its just hidden from the world! you have been so strong, I pray to God that you do find the justice you so deserve! Truth always prevails, remember that! yes, a very looooong time but you will see justice and all those who wronged you, will see their day! God Bless you, Rodney.

  22. Azumi Yuki

    Hello Mr. Reed.
    I heard about this from the TV and I’m sorry that this is happened. You’re innocent, i believe so. Stay strong.

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