Rejecting claims of innocence, the judge in Rodney Reed’s retrial has found evidence presented to the court was not sufficient to grant a retrial to the convicted rapist and murderer.

Two decades after Rodney Reed was found guilty and sentenced to death for the assault, rape, and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stiles in 1996, efforts to overturn the verdict emerged on social media largely due to a vocal outpouring of support for Reed from celebrities like Dr. Phil and Kim Kardashian, who cite the convicted killer as an example of a black man railroaded by the criminal justice system.

The rejection of a new trial for Reed came almost two years after Reed’s execution was halted by calls for a new review of his conviction.

On Monday, retired state District Judge J.D. Langley issued a setback in the case to win Reed his freedom. Langley made his recommendation two weeks after hearing the final arguments from Reed’s team, which will now go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a final decision.

The Texas Tribune reported:

It is an explosive turn after nearly a quarter-century of court battles over the 1996 Bastrop County killing. Reed, now 53, and his supporters have long proclaimed his innocence, pointing blame at Stites’ fiance, Jimmy Fennell. Stites’ family and state attorneys remain convinced of Reed’s guilt.

Reed, a Black man, was found guilty of murdering Stites, a white woman, and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Fennell, a white man, is a former Giddings police officer.

"The Court of Criminal Appeals has repeatedly considered [Reed's] allegations of innocence ... and found them wanting," Langley wrote in his findings.

The high court could still rule against the judge and grant Reed a new trial, but it is unclear when the court will make a decision.