A petition demanding that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott halt the execution of death row inmate Rodney Reed gathered 2.4 million signatures Saturday, as supporters prepared to rally at the Governor's Mansion in Austin.
Reed is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on November 20, but his representatives at the Innocence Project are calling on Abbott to postpone the execution in light of new evidence that Reed is innocent of raping and murdering a woman, Stacey Stites, in 1996.
"If Texas moves forward on the execution of Rodney Reed, the true unjustness of the death penalty will be clear. Texas cares more about completing this 'task' than potentially preventing the execution of an innocent man."
According to the Innocence Project, Stites' fiance confessed to a fellow inmate while in prison for another murder that he had killed Stites. During Reed's trial, the suspected murder weapon was also not tested.
"Mountains of evidence exonerates Rodney Reed. All of that evidence was kept from the all white jury that convicted him. Instead, the evidence implicates the victim's fiancé—local police officer Jimmy Fennell—who has a history of violence against women, including being convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was wrongly sent to prison," reads the website FreeRodneyReed.com, which was set up by the Action PAC to call for a 30-day reprieve.
"Governor Greg Abbott has stopped an execution before," the group added. "He can again. A huge public uproar right now could force Abbott to free Rodney Reed and stop this execution."
On Friday, a bipartisan coalition of 26 Texas state representatives and 16 state senators sent letters to Abbott calling for the reprieve.
"Executing Rodney Reed without certainty about his guilt erodes public trust," wrote the lawmakers.
Politicians across the country have also weighed in as Reed's execution date draws near, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who urged fellow Texans to attend the rally on Saturday.
Members of Stites's family are among those expected to attend the rally in support of Reed.
"If Texas moves forward on the execution of Rodney Reed, the true unjustness of the death penalty will be clear," the ACLU tweeted this week. "Texas cares more about completing this 'task' than potentially preventing the execution of an innocent man."