Melissa Lucio’s execution is disabled. At least, for now.
Lucio 52 was scheduled to die Wednesday after she inflicted lethal injections on her 2-year-old daughter Mariah. Harlingen is a city of approximately 75,000 at Texas’ southern tip.
Monday’s intervention by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals allowed Lucio’s lawyers to request a stay of execution. This would allow a lower court to review claims that Mariah’s injuries, which included a blow in the head, were due to a fall down a steep stairway.
Nearly half the jurors that sentenced her to death for 2007 deaths of one of her children had asked for her execution to be stopped and for her to face a fresh trial. Lucio has been supported by celebrities and lawmakers like Kim Kardashian, a proponent of criminal justice reform and Amanda Knox, an American who was convicted in the murder of a British student in Italy. However, the prosecution maintains that the girl was a victim of child abuse.
Lucio’s lawyers filed several legal appeals to stop her execution. A clemency request was also filed before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. It was scheduled to hear her case Monday. Republican Governor. Greg Abbott may have played a part in Lucio’s fate this week. Lucio, if she is executed, would become the first Latina to be executed in Texas since 1863 and the first woman to be killed by Texas .
Here are some facts about this case:
WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS ABOUT?
Lucio’s lawyers claim that her capital murder conviction was based upon a coerced confession. This was her result of constant questioning and her long history sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Lucio was not allowed to present evidence challenging her confession, they claim.
Her lawyers claim that jurors were misled by unscientific and false information, believing Mariah’s injuries could only have been caused physical abuse and not medical complications following a severe fall.
“I knew I wasn’t doing what was being accused.” Lucio wrote a letter to Texas legislators, “My children have always been my universe and although my choices in my life were not great I would never have hurt any of them in this way.”
Luis Saenz from Cameron County, the prosecutor in this case, said that he disagreed with Lucio’s lawyers’ claim that new evidence would exonerate them. Prosecutors claim Lucio was a drug addict and had lost custody of several of her 14 children.
In a heated Texas House committee hearing this month on Lucio’s case, Saenz initially refused to exercise his power to stop executions, but later stated that he would intervene in the event the courts failed to act.
“I don’t disagree with the amount of scrutiny that this case is receiving. Saenz stated, “I welcome that.”
Lucio was convicted by Armando Villalobos in 2008. His lawyers claim that Lucio pushed for the conviction to support his reelection bid. Villalobos was sentencedto thirteen years in federal prison in 2014 for a scheme to bribe judges.
WHO CALLS FOR LUCIO’S EXECUTION to BE STOPPED?
Over half of Texas legislators have requested that her execution be stopped. A bipartisan group of Texas legislators visited Gatesville this month , where female death row inmates are kept, and prayed for Lucio.
Five of the twelve jurors that sentenced Lucio, along with one alternate juror, have questioned their decision. They asked for a new trial.
Lucio’s cause has also been supported by faith leaders, and was featured on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Lucio’s family has been touring Texas with her supporters and held rallies and screenings of “The State of Texas against Melissa” 2020 documentary.
Lucio’s supporters held an Austin prayer vigil before Monday’s court decision. They waited to hear from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles about her clemency request. Supporters held rallies across 16 U.S. locations, including Houston, Boston and Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.
WHERE CAN EFFORTS TO HALT HIM EXECUTION STAND
Monday’s hearing at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was scheduled to hear a request for a request to commute Lucio’s death sentence to life imprisonment, or to grant her a 120-day reprieve from execution. However, that hearing was pushed back by an appeals court order. Lucio had an appeal in federal court pending to stop her execution. As the case proceeds to Brownsville’s trial judge, the federal appeal and the petition for clemency are now overruled.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the lower court would start reviewing her case. Tivon Schardl was one of Lucio’s lawyers. They hope to convince her trial judge to grant her a fresh trial.
Abbott would have had to approve if the board had considered her case and recommended commutation or reprieve. Since taking office in 2015, the governor has granted clemency only to one death row prisoner. Thomas “Bart” Whitaker was convicted of shooting his mother and brother. Whitaker’s father, Whitaker, was also shot but survived the attack and led the effort for his son’s safety.
WHAT % WOMEN ARE EXECUTED RESPONSIBLY?
According to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center (a non-profit that does not take stance on capital punishment, but has criticised the manner in which executions are carried out, it’s very rare in the U.S. According to data from the group, women account for just 3.6% of more than 16,000 executions in the U.S. since the colonial period in 1600s.
According to data, 17 women were executed across the country since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated death penalty. Six women have been executed in Texas, more than any other state. Oklahoma, which has three executions, is next. Florida, however, has two.
Since 1976, one woman has been executed by the federal government. Lisa Montgomery of Kansas received a lethal injection on January 20, 2021, after the Trump administration resumed executions within the federal system after a 17-year break. Under the Biden administration, executions were stopped by the Justice Department.