Polygraph Use in the Stacey Stites Case
By Joshlin Sheridan, Marketing —
It All Started Over 20 Years Ago
In 1996, Stacey Stites was tragically murdered at only 19 years old. Initially, the prosecution was successfully able to put Rodney Reed on death row on the conviction that he had assaulted, raped, and strangled Stites. Their sole piece of evidence was that his DNA matched semen found on Stites’s body. This case is over 20 years old, but it is still being discussed in the news because of the controversial nature of its evidence, assumptions, and biases. The situation was highly charged because Reed was black and Stites was white and many witnesses were prepared to testify of their relationship, despite her engagement to police officer, Jimmy Fennel. Because of new evidence about the case that hints at Reed’s innocence, his execution has been stayed indefinitely. Fennel was put in prison in 2007 for raping a woman while he was a Georgetown police officer but is set to be released this month. The controversy of this case continues.
Use of Polygraph in the Stites Case
Although Jimmy Fennel was initially the prime suspect for Stites’s murder, much of the focus shifted to Rodney Reed once the DNA evidence was found. This DNA evidence overruled some of the other important evidence for the case, including several of the polygraph tests that Reed was required to take. The case records show that Jimmy Fennell failed two polygraph tests that he took; he showed deception when specifically asked if he had strangled his fiancée. However, Fennel claimed that he failed the tests because he was distraught over Stites’s death and was therefore never interviewed about the polygraph examination again.
New Technology Brings Better Solutions
With so much confusion surrounding one case, there has to be a better way to prove innocence in lie detection technology with more trusted lie detector test accuracy. EyeDetect® is one such technology that would have streamlined the process of this case and helped eliminate bias. EyeDetect® is an ocular-motor deception test with an 86% accuracy rate. This eye lie detector in non-invasive; it measures eye movement from a computer screen instead of connecting sensors directly to the body as a polygraph does. Therefore, nerves or emotion cannot be blamed for failing a test because these measures are irrelevant. Additionally, because the test is taken on a computer, there is less of a chance of interviewer bias.
EyeDetect® is not only useful in lie detection, but in screening potential candidates for the police force. It has been used by various police academies to verify the character and history of potential hires.
Imagine how Stacey Stites’s case might have turned out differently if EyeDetect® was administered to the suspects and used to prescreen police officers such as Jimmy Fennel.
Learn more about EyeDetect® here
Photo by / Aaron Mello