LIVINGSTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Just five days before his scheduled execution, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Parole Board, granted a stay of execution for convicted murderer Rodney Reed.

Reed has been incarcerated for more than 21 years for the 1996 rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

His legal team filed for clemency after new witnesses and evidence came out that would exonerate Reed. The Innocence Project recently stated that Stites’ former fiance, Jimmy Fennell, gave an alleged murder confession to another inmate while serving 10 years for kidnapping and raping another woman.

As Reed’s execution drew near, multiple celebrities began speaking out to fight for his exoneration.

In a statement released Friday, Federal Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt said “this is the first step in a long road to justice to restore this man’s freedom.”

“We are not at the end of this journey, but saving his life is the start we desperately needed,” Merritt said.