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New Evidence In Rodney Reed Case

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Nationwide — Rodney Reed, a 51-year old man who was wrongfully convicted of a rape and murder that he did not commit, is scheduled to be executed on November 20th in Texas despite the evidence that confirms his innocence. Several advocates and celebrities such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian West have signed a petition to prevent the execution.

In 1996, Reed was accused of killing Stacey Stites, who was then 19-years old. He allegedly kidnapped her before raping and strangling her, leaving her body in a remote area of Bastrop, Texas.

Reed was eventually convicted of rape and murder by an all-white jury in 1998.

However, new evidence that could potentially exonerate him and instead implicate Stites’ fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a local police officer, has emerged.

Reed’s attorneys claimed the prosecution relied on a hunch and inaccurate science, testing recovered DNA against Reed, which became the sole basis of the case. Reed, who initially denied knowing Stites, later admitted that he had a relationship with her and the sperm found inside Stites’ body was because they had consensual sex the day before she was found dead.

Forensic witnesses in the original trial claimed that sperm could not survive for more than a day after sex so prosecutors believed that she was raped by Reed shortly before being murdered. New evidence, however, proved that sperm can stay intact for days after death, confirming that the main evidence linking Reed to her death was wrong as it lacked scientific support.

Additional forensic evidence also pointed toward Fennell. Fingerprints discovered from his pickup truck — which was reportedly used to kidnap Stites — matched only Stites and Fennell.

During the trial, several witnesses could have testified that Fennell found about their affair and threatened Reed, but they weren’t called.

Meanwhile, Fennel, who had a history of violence against women, was sent to jail for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was imprisoned. While in jail, Fennel allegedly confessed to killing Stites, according to the affidavit filed by Arthur Snow Jr., a former prison inmate. Snow said he was in jail with Fennel when he said his fiancé had been sleeping around with a Black man behind his back, so he had to kill her.

“Toward the end of the conversation Jimmy said confidently, ‘I had to kill my n****r-loving fiancé,’” Snow wrote. “My impression was that Jimmy felt safe, even proud, sharing this information with me because I was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. I think Jimmy assumed that his confession would impress me and earn him credibility with the Aryan Brotherhood.”

Over the years, Reed, who has been on death row for 21 years, maintained his innocence. The Innocence Project, an organization that aims to exonerate wrongly convicted people, is representing Reed.

Moreover, Reed has been receiving support from several people, including pastors, police officers, and celebrities. Almost 3 million people have signed the petition calling for Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency, stop or delay the execution.

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SAPD Chief’s Termination of Officer Matthew Luckhurst upheld

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Officer Matthew Luckhurst (SBG Photo)

On Friday, June 19, 2020, an arbitrator upheld San Antonio Police Chief William McManus’ second termination of former SAPD Officer Matthew Luckhurst. The former police officer was initially fired, or indefinitely suspended, for placing a feces sandwich in a food container and giving it to a homeless man. However, Luckhurst appealed to an arbitrator, and under a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement with police union, he was reinstated by claiming that the incident occurred more than 180 days before the suspension was issued.

Luckhurst received a second suspension for a separate incident when he purposely failed to flush feces in the toilet in the Downtown Bike Patrol women’s restroom. On the same occasion, he spread a brown tapioca-like substance on the toilet seat to give the appearance of feces. By his own admission, he took these actions because a female officer had placed a sign in the room requesting that it be kept clean. Hearing Examiner Thomas Cipolla found that Chief McManus’ decision to terminate Luckhurst’s employment was warranted due to the egregious nature of Luckhurst’s conduct aimed at women.

“This individual clearly has no business wearing an SAPD uniform, and it should never have been this hard to fire him,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “I am pleased that this is behind us, but the contract provision that gave him more chances than he deserved remains an obstacle to the Chief’s ability to discipline officers who fail to live up to SAPD’s standards.” “The vast majority of our officers respect their oaths to serve the community, and they resent it when individuals like Luckhurst discredit the badge,” said Chief McManus. “For both the department and the community, it was critically important that he not be allowed to have his job back. Although the limits imposed on me by the Collective Bargaining Agreement made firing him more difficult than it should have been, justice was finally served in this case.”

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Black Men Awarded for Wrongful Conviction

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Three men from Cleveland, Ohio — 63-year old Rickey Jackson, 65-year old Wiley Bridgeman, and 62-year old Kwame Ajamu — have been awarded a settlement for $18 million nearly 45 years after their wrongful conviction and imprisonment in connection to a robbery and murder case in 1975.

Jackson, Bridgeman, and his brother Ajamu, formerly known as Ronnie Bridgeman, were then aged 18, 20, 17 when they were accused and convicted for the deadly robbery of Harold Franks.

They were convicted based solely on a testimony of a 12-year old boy, which eventually turned out to be false testimony. The boy admitted that he was coerced by Cleveland police to provide wrongful testimony during the trial.

The three men were all exonerated and freed in 2014.

“For 45 years, our clients never gave up hope that someday their nightmare would be over,” said their attorney, Terry Gilbert. “That time has come with this final resolution providing some measure of justice and closure. But the physical and emotional trauma our clients were forced to endure is an example of the deep flaws of a racist criminal legal system focused on results rather than truth and justice.”

The three have reached an $18 million settlement following a lawsuit against the city of Cleveland for police misconduct, falsifying evidence, and coercing a witness. It is reportedly the largest settlement ever made in the history of the state of Ohio.

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Video Surfaces in Ahmaud Arbery Case

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Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year old unarmed Black man from Brunswick Georgia, was reportedly shot and killed by two white men as he jogged through their neighborhood. The incident happened back in February, but no charges have yet been filed.

 was February 23rd to be exact when 64-year old Gregory McMichael and his 34-year old son Travis reportedly grabbed their shot gun and followed Ahmaud in their truck after they saw him run past them. Both claimed that Ahmaud “looked like a suspect” in a string of robberies in the area.

Gregory, who is a retired investigator in the District Attorney’s office, said he asked Ahmaud to “stop” so they could talk. The situation escalated, and later there was an alleged struggle after with the McMichael’s shotgun. Ahmaud was shot at least twice.

Some witnesses said Ahmaud, who was wearing a white t-shirt on that day, was only exercising. However, a 911 call from a nearby neighbor earlier that day reported a Black man in a white t-shirt who is “running right now” from a house that was under construction.

Brunswick NAACP president Rev. John Davis Perry II said the shooting is “troubling,” causing other people in the area to express concerns about the community and racial profiling.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor argued that the father and son who killed Ahmaud were justified due to the citizen’s arrest statute in Georgia. Travis, who was actually holding the shotgun, is said to have acted out of self-defense.

The prosecutor, who has since been recused from the case due to a possible conflict of interest, noted that Ahmaud had a criminal record. In 2018, he was convicted of shoplifting and violating probation, and he was indicted for reportedly taking a handgun to a high school basketball game.

Neither Gregory or Travis McMichael have yet been charged or arrested in connection to the killing. Another prosecutor from a different county will determine whether the case should be presented to a grand jury.

“We can’t do anything because of this corona stuff,” Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper told the New York Times. “We thought about walking out where the shooting occurred, just doing a little march, but we can’t be out right now.”

To date video has surfaced of the fatal struggle and shooting of 23 year old Amaud Aubrey.

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