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#RodneyReed was accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl during the sentencing phase of his murder trial in 1998. This is, of course, a very disturbing allegation, but there were MAJOR problems with it. Here’s the context you need to understand the whole picture.
I believe that the 12-year-old victim in this case deserves justice and that police and prosecutors have failed her in a horrible way. They used her as a pawn in their quest to send Rodney Reed to the death chamber. I will not be sharing the victim's name to protect her privacy.
#RodneyReed was NEVER brought to trial in connection with these allegations. No jury has ever determined if Rodney is guilty or not guilty of these charges. None of the purported evidence has been tested in a courtroom at a criminal trial.
The 12-year-old victim was sexually assaulted on September 6, 1989. She was asleep when the attack began. She never saw the face of the man who committed the assault because he put a bandana or other cloth over her eyes.
Shortly after the assault, the victim told a social services caseworker that she knew the attacker's first name started with a “J.” The victim also told an investigator that the man who raped her that night was James Slaughter.
James Slaughter’s hair was collected and it had characteristics in common with hair collected from the victim's clothing. Read this affidavit that details the suspicions police had about Slaughter's involvement in the sexual assault of the 12-year-old victim.
A police investigator admitted that the case against James Slaughter could have been taken to the grand jury for an indictment, but police and prosecutors chose not to pursue it and let the case go cold instead. We've heard that Slaughter was later accused of another assault.
There has been some discussion about DNA evidence linking Rodney Reed to the assault of the 12-year-old victim. There are several reasons to be skeptical about this DNA, so let’s line them up…
The DNA sample was degraded because police waited almost 10 years to test it (while allowing the case to go cold). Procedures to ensure the accuracy of the DNA testing process were not followed. Best practice is to use two different accuracy checks; the Texas lab used only one.
The Texas lab technician did NOT testify that the DNA matched Rodney Reed. The technician said that almost 4% of the Black population have DNA that is substantially similar. Technology was not as advanced in 1998 and DNA testing was not all that exact.
The technician said he would be surprised if two people in the same town shared the same DNA characteristics. Imagine his surprise when it was revealed that several people on one street in Bastrop share the same DNA characteristics as Rodney Reed!
Another lab technician from LabCorp testified that she had analyzed the DNA samples, but admitted that she had never extracted the DNA or looked at the samples under a microscope. She had no way of independently verifying the source or integrity of the DNA samples.
The LabCorp technician also stated that her lab required two separate accuracy checks before analyzing a DNA sample. The Texas lab handled the samples before sending them to LabCorp and did not follow this protocol, so the LabCorp analysis is highly questionable.
We have reason to seriously question the testimony from the Texas crime lab technician as well as the LabCorp technician. Both of their lab supervisors have admitted that aspects of their testimony at Rodney's trial was inaccurate or flat-out false.
Before jumping to conclusions about #RodneyReed, I hope you’ll look at all the facts and consider the full context. The 12-year-old victim repeatedly named someone else as her rapist; the DNA evidence was not handled properly; and the expert testimony is highly questionable.
I've seen some people citing a Supreme Court document and saying that it shows that #RodneyReed is guilty. This is simply not true. The document is a filing submitted by prosecutors and it's littered with inaccuracies that I've previously discussed.
Prosecutors have claimed they didn’t need to bring this rape case to trial because Rodney is already on death row. This ignores the fact that it was allowed to go cold for 10 years. It also suggests that getting justice for the 12-year-old victim was never a priority.
It does suggest, however, that using this unproven cold case, plus other unproven allegations, in the sentencing phase of Rodney’s capital murder trial was a tactic to prove “future dangerousness,” a prerequisite for getting the death penalty in Texas.
Two key takeaways: First, the 12-year-old victim has been denied justice. Prosecutors and police mishandled her case and then used her as a pawn.
Second, please think about the implications of rushing to judge a man without fully considering ALL the evidence. Liking a tweet is easy; researching a tweet takes commitment to the truth.
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