AUSTIN, Texas - In 1996 19-year-old Stacey Stites was raped and murdered in Bastrop County.
The Giddings woman had been working the early morning shift at H-E-B in Bastrop, to help finance her wedding. She died just 18 days shy of the big day.
In 1998 Rodney Reed was convicted for the killing and sentenced to death. For more than twenty years, his case has dominated headlines. But now, Stacey Stites’ daughter, Demi Nugent, is speaking out for the first time and she hopes to give her mother a voice.
“I have her smile, I have pretty much her, with a little bit of differences.” she smiled. Nugent says the similarities she shares with her mother make her feel close to her mom. She even named her daughter Stacey Lee, as a way to honor her mother’s memory. She struggles to find peace, amidst Reed's exhaustive legal proceedings.
“I just want it to be over, I don’t want it to be on the news anymore. I don’t want it to be thrown in my face constantly, I just want her to be known as the person that she was. A beautiful, loving person.”
Nugent feels that her mother has been lost and overlooked in the chaos of Reed's public case. “I want a story about her, that’s what I want to see. I want a story about her, and how she’s the victim.” she said.
She says this is the first time any media outlet has contacted her. “If they cared that much about her, and her story they would have done something. They would have investigated more because she has a kid. You should know that.” she said.
Nugent says Stites found out she was pregnant at age 15. She decided on an open adoption, with a couple, through her church:
“I mean it takes a really strong person at 15-years-old to decide to put your child up for adoption so that they have a better life, because you’re too young, and she couldn’t take care of me. But, she wanted to be a part of my life and see me grow, and she doesn’t get to do that.” she said, adding, “I don’t know how anybody else feels but I’m angry. I’m angry that I don’t get to know her and neither do my kids, and I’m angry that she’s not, it’s not about her, it’s about somebody else.”