Austin, Texas – In his five years as governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott has overseen the execution of nearly 50 inmates and only once has he forgiven the death row, after the victim's family asked him To do it.
But Abbott – who proudly refers to the death penalty as "Texas justice" – had never faced such intense pressure to suspend a lethal injection as he faces in the case of Rodney Reed, whose death is scheduled for this month for a murder committed in 1996 despite new evidence that even a growing number of Republican lawmakers believe it raises serious questions about their guilt.
On Saturday, people in favor of Reed held the biggest protest so far outside the governor's mansion, which intensifies a public campaign that now features Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among celebrities who have urged Abbott to suspend the execution of November 20. So has the European Union ambassador to the United States.RELATED
"All I would say is, honestly, to take a look at the evidence," said Rodrick Reed, Rodney's brother.
It is unknown if public pressure is having any impact on Abbott, who was a state attorney general before being elected governor. Abbott has not made public statements regarding Reed's case. Even Republican lawmakers who have a close relationship with the governor and have put pressure on Abbott's office in recent days and weeks for a pardon say they don't know what he thinks.
"They say the governor is aware of this and makes a very deliberate and thoughtful analysis," said Matt Krause, a Republican who represents Texas in the lower house. "But they didn't give me a hint of one side or the other that he will decide to take."
Reed, now 51, was convicted of the rape and strangulation suffered by Stacy Stites, 19, when he went to work in a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.