Eleven years ago Kalaru-based legal advocate Martin Hodgson came across the strange case of death row inmate Rodney Reed.
I was always interested in working on cases involving police corruption and people on death row with no evidence against them.Legal advocate Martin Hodgson
Just weeks before his scheduled execution for the 1996 murder and rape of 19-year-old Stacey Stites, and one year since expert witnesses admitted to making errors during Reed's 1998 conviction by jury, celebrities Dr Phil and Kim Kardashian are lobbying Texas governor Greg Abbott for his release.
"This case shows the need to review the use of the death penalty," Mr Hodgson said.
Mr Hodgson, who has worked with Reed for over a decade, claims all the evidence in the case leads back to the initial suspect in the case, Stites' fiance and police officer at the time, Jimmy Fennell Jr. Fennel was released from prison last year after pleading guilty to separate crimes of kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a person in his custody.
After watching the movie I opened up my computer & opened up my email about a case I had recently been investigating, @FreeRodneyReed. I have been hearing about him and his story for the last week. On Nov. 20, Texas will execute Rodney Reed. I believe he is innocent.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 19, 2019
Reed was arrested a year after the murder, based on a match of his DNA found in Stites' body. It has since been confirmed by witnesses the pair were in a sexual relationship, and in June last year, the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab director Brady Mills and other experts acknowledged errors in testimony at Reed's trial.
"Sometimes as a witness you don't see how your statement can be used to make a point by prosecutors you never intended," Mr Hodgson said.
Mr Hodgson said four new forensic pathologists, including the world-renowned Dr Werner Spitz, as well as a a retired NYPD doctor and detective who reinvestigated the case, all support Reed's innocence.
He said the prosecution's case had relied on a timeline of events now being brought into question.
"Police initially didn't even search her [Stites'] flat she shared with Fennel," he said.
"Rodney also had an alibi, but his coworker was never called to trial. He has always believed the truth will come out."
Last week Reed appeared on the Dr Phil show, and Mr Hodgson remains confident the governor will step in before he is scheduled to die by lethal injection on November 20.
"Often what is so sick is they leave it almost to the last minute to announce a stay of execution," he said.
Reed's name was first mentioned while Mr Hodgson was working on another death row case. The pair shared letters, and eventually Mr Hodgson contacted Reed's lawyers.
"I was always interested in working on cases involving police corruption and people on death row with no evidence against them," Mr Hodgson said.
"Rodney has always believed the right people will come along at the right time and the truth will come out.
"We are two country people from different sides of the world, but he feels we were meant to come together.
"Rodney is different to most prisoners. He didn't tell me straight away he was innocent, he asked me to look at the evidence because he knows the evidence leads to someone else."
The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law, is also involved in Reed's case. The project is running an online petition to attempt to prevent his execution.
"Three forensic experts have submitted affidavits that the original time of death is inaccurate, which makes the timeline for Reed killing Stites implausible," the project states on it's website.
"New witnesses including Stites's own cousin have come forward and corroborated Reed's claim that they knew that Reed and Stites were romantically involved."
Reed's lawyers have filed a motion requesting the withdrawal of his execution date, given the new evidence coming to light in recent weeks.
The Innocence project has exonerated 367 people wrongly sentenced to death in America since 1989. More than 60 per cent of the innocent death row inmates were black, and almost half of the cases involved misrepresentation of forensic evidence to the court, Mr Hodgson said.
"Juries are watching shows like CSI, and have come to believe forensics are 100 per cent accurate," he said.
"It's a real challenge now for judges to determine whether the jury is understanding the evidence enough.
"People go along with what they know, rather than strictly what happened in the court room."
Mr Hodgson said the case parallels his efforts to have Queensland prisoner Kevin Henry released after spending almost three decades behind bars for a murder he says Henry did not commit.
"They are both black men who faced all white juries. They both have alibis and no eye-witnesses placing them at the scene," Mr Hodgson said.
"In both cases the state's own forensic experts state the version offered by the prosecution is not consistent with the science. New evidence highlights both men's innocence, which both have always maintained.
"Both cases feature serious allegations of police misconduct. In both cases there is clear evidence pointing in other directions, as well as new witness testimonies."
Joined by 2019 Walkley Award finalist and investigative journalist Amy McQuire, Mr Hodgson has delved into the Henry case in Curtain the Podcast, reaching listeners across the globe.
"There are certain people in prison who know who is innocent. You hear it from guards, prisoners and some of the local police," he said.
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"You don't have to look far to find someone in the community who will talk, because it is a town's dirty little secret. And people want to really get the truth off their chests.
"If both Kevin and Rodney had trial by judge right now, they would be found not guilty. There are so many similarities between the two cases.
"We have never been closer to freeing Kevin, and new evidence continues to be uncovered proving his innocence.
Mr Hodgson said both the Reed and Henry cases raise serious questions about how the legal system must deal with its own errors.
"What do we do when someone is found not guilty after so long? How do you unravel that mess and deal with compensation?" he said.