Court saves Latina shortly before death sentence is executed
A Texas appeals court on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio amid growing questions about whether she beat her 2-year-old daughter to death, in a case that has garnered support from lawmakers, celebrities and even some of the members. of the jury that sentenced her to death.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a request by Lucio’s attorneys to stay the execution so a lower court could review her claims that new evidence in her case would exonerate her. At the moment it is unknown when the lower court will begin to review her case.
Lucio’s execution by lethal injection was scheduled for Wednesday. He was dictated to him by the death of his daughter Mariah that occurred in 2007 in Harlingen, a city of about 75,000 inhabitants in the extreme south of Texas.
Prosecutors maintain that the minor was the victim of abuse and noted that her body was covered with bruises. Lucio’s lawyers say that Mariah died from the injuries she suffered when she fell down a staircase several days before she died.
“I am grateful that the court has given me the opportunity to live and prove my innocence,” Lucio said in a statement provided by his lawyers. “Mariah is in my heart today and always. I am grateful to have more days to be a mother to my children and a grandmother to my grandchildren. I will use my time to help lead them to Christ. I am deeply grateful to everyone who prayed for me and spoke on my behalf.”
The stay of execution was announced minutes before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles addressed his request for clemency, either to commute his death sentence or postpone it by 120 days.
Was there coercion?
Lucio’s lawyers say his capital murder conviction was based on an unreliable and forced confession that was the result of relentless interrogation and a long history of sexual, physical and psychological abuse of his wife. client. They claim that Lucio was not allowed to present evidence questioning the validity of his confession.
Her attorneys also contend that false and unscientific evidence led jurors to believe that Mariah’s injuries could only have been caused by abuse and not medical complications from a serious fall.
“It would have shocked the public conscience for Melissa to be executed based on false and incomplete medical evidence for a crime that never happened,” said Vanessa Potkin, one of Lucio’s lawyers who is part of the Innocence Project.
“All of the new evidence of his innocence has never before been considered by a court. The court stay allows us to continue fighting alongside Melissa to overturn her wrongful conviction,” he added.
Meanwhile, the community mobilized in front of the administration building of the Cameron County Court Complex in Brownsville, calling for the immediate release of Melissa Lucio.
Five of the 12 jurors who sentenced Lucio and a substitute juror have questioned their own decision and called for a new trial.
Lucio’s cause also has the support of religious leaders and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, and was featured on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”