Supreme Court won't hear Rodney Reed's death row appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of a Texas death row inmate.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the appeal but noted that there are serious questions about the conviction of 52-year-old Rodney Reed. She called his conviction mired in guilt.

Reed was found guilty for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacy Stites. Prosecutors said he raped and strangled her as she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Reed, who's been in jail for more than two decades, has long maintained he didn't kill Stites and that her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, was the real killer. Reed, who is black, claims Fennell was angry because he was having an affair with Stites, who was white.

New evidence in the case has led a growing number of supporters, Texas legislators, religious leaders and celebrities such as Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Oprah trying to stop his execution.

Reed's attorneys presented affidavits in support of his claims of innocence, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur.

In November, the Texas parole board recommended delaying his execution just days before it was scheduled to take place. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals then issued a stay and sent the case back to the Bastrop County court where he was originally convicted.

Reed’s family has vowed to never stop fighting. They told FOX 7 Austin they hope he will be home to celebrate his 53rd birthday with family.