Rodney Reed has been on death row in Texas for 21 years, but his execution was suspended indefinitely on Friday

By Ashley Boucher
November 15, 2019 10:51 PM
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Kim Kardashian, Rodney Reed
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Rodney Reed, who has been on death row in Texas for more than two decades, will not be executed as previously scheduled — and Kim Kardashian West there with him when he found out the news.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Friday to block Reed’s execution, which had been scheduled for November 20, according to the New York Times. His execution is now suspended indefinitely.

Hours before the ruling, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Governor Greg Abbott grant Reed a 120-day reprieve, according to the NYT.

Kardashian West was just one of the many celebrity voices to stand up for Reed after his attorneys with the Innocence Project said they have new eyewitness evidence to be presented that would help prove his innocence. Experts that were called in in 1998 when he was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites have also recanted their testimony.

“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 Keeping Up with the Kardashians star wrote on Twitter Friday.

“Words cannot describe the relief and hope that swept over the room in that moment,” she continued. “That hope had been building over the last few weeks around Rodney’s case. We have seen Democrats and Republicans come together. We have seen grassroots activists and lawmakers link arms.”

“We have heard people all around the globe speak up,” Kardashian West, who is studying to become a lawyer, continued in another tweet. “And all because of a deep belief that every man or woman accused of a crime – especially one punishable by death – deserves the chance to have all available evidence considered.”

Rodney Reed
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Finally, Kardashian West expressed her gratitude to those who “voiced their support” for Reed.

In addition to Kardashian West, other celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna, LL Cool J, Isaiah Washington, former NFL player Reggie Bush, and rapper Meek Mill all spoke out in support for a campaign calling for a stay in Reed’s execution, and more than 500,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging Abbott to reconsider his case.

Millions more signed a petition at FreeRodneyReed.com calling for a review of the new evidence.

Rodney Reed
AP/Shutterstock

Reed’s lawyer, Bryce Benjet, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but said in a statement to TIME, “We are extremely relieved and thankful that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a stay of execution for our client Rodney Reed.”

“This opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr. Reed’s innocence,” his statement added.

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On April 22, 1996, 19-year-old Stites was beaten, raped and strangled in Bastrop, Texas. Reed was later found guilty by an all-white jury, after DNA on Stites was identified as his a year after her murder, TIME reported.

Reed has long maintained his innocence, and said that he and Stites were having an affair, which would explain his DNA being found on her body, the New York Times reported.

“I don’t think you can ignore the role that racism plays in our criminal justice system,” Benjet said in his statement to TIME. “In a rural part of Texas the accusation of a black man raping a white woman is essentially a charge.”