Melissa Lucio Faces Execution in Texas on April 27 for a Crime That May Never Have Occurred
Melissa Lucio, 52, is set to be executed Wednesday, April 27th in Texas for the death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah. However, new evidence casts doubt on Melissa’s guilt and has many lawmakers and supporters rallying to have her sentence commuted.
Nearly half of the jurors who sentenced Ms. Lucio to die for the 2007 death of her daughter are calling for her upcoming execution to be halted and for her to get a new trial.
More than half the members of the Texas House and Senate have asked that her execution be halted.
Lucio’s attorneys are seeking clemency, calling on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that Texas Governor Greg Abbott commute her sentence before she is executed on April 27th. The Board is set to consider her case on Monday April 25th. If put to death, Lucio would be the first Latina ever executed by Texas and the first woman the state has put to death since 2014.
Why Is Her Guilt Being Questioned?
At trial, prosecutors argued Lucio was an abusive mother who caused injuries resulting in Mariah’s death. However, Lucio’s attorneys say new evidence shows Mariah’s injuries, including a blow to the head, were caused by a fall down a steep staircase.
Lucio’s attorneys claim her capital murder conviction was based on an unreliable and coerced confession where she was relentlessly questioned for over five hours on the same night her daughter died. Her attorneys also point out that her long history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse made her vulnerable to the aggressive questioning tactics. Further, Lucio wasn’t allowed to present evidence at trial questioning the validity of her confession.
In addition, Lucio’s lawyers contend jurors were misguided by false, unscientific evidence leading them to believe Mariah’s injuries could only have been caused by physical abuse and not by medical complications resulting from a severe fall.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz maintains she is guilty.
During an April 12th Texas House committee hearing on Lucio’s case in Austin, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers pushed for Saenz to use his authority to stop the execution. Saenz initially pushed back saying it wasn’t his place to intervene, before later saying he would intercede to allow time for outstanding appeals, if necessary. Appeals seeking to stop Lucio’s execution are pending in state and federal courts.
Lucio’s lawyers allege that the district attorney at the time of Lucio’s 2008 trial pushed for her conviction to strengthen his reelection bid. The district attorney, Armando Villalobos, was sentenced in 2014 to 13 years in federal prison for bribery and extortion related to offering favorable prosecutorial decisions.
Lucio’s family and supporters have been traveling throughout Texas and holding rallies and screenings of a 2020 documentary about her case, “The State of Texas vs. Melissa. Her supporters say they’re hopeful their efforts will work, and that Lucio’s sentence will be commuted.
Click on link below to see Michael Wynne’s interview for the documentary “The State of Texas vs. Melissa” which has garnered international attention.