AUSTIN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Wednesday, 20 senators sent a letter to the Texas Board of pardons and Paroles urging them to recommend to Gov. Greg Abbott to cancel Melissa Lucio’s upcoming execution.
The letter goes over the new evidence that has surfaced in the case that could prove Lucio is innocent.
The letter sent Wednesday highlights four main points.
The first is one claims that the jury heard “false testimony about whether [her daughter] Mariah was abused.”
Then it goes on to say that Lucio experienced “ineffective assistance from counsel.”
The third point states the “dramatic sentencing disparity” between Lucio and her husband. He served a 4-year sentence for child endangerment. Adding was also responsible for the 2-year-old’s care.
Lastly, the letter points out that Lucio is a practicing Catholic who continues practicing and has “brought other inmates to Christ.”
The letter concludes by stating that carrying out the execution would not bring justice and instead would cause suffering to her family who went through the death of the 2-year-old 14 years ago and will now be losing another member of the family.
State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. District 27, was part of those that signed the letter.
Without a recommendation from the Board to the contrary, the State of Texas will execute Ms. Lucio on April 27, making her the first Latina in the United States to be executed since the resumption of the death penalty in the 1970s. Among the constitutional deficiencies and improprieties Ms. Lucio faced during her trial, new evidence has surfaced that calls Ms. Lucio’s conviction into question. Accordingly, she deserves a reprieve from execution until her defense team can gather the new evidence needed to prove her innocence.STATE SENATOR EDDIE LUCIO, JR. DISTRICT 27
Lucio was found guilty of capital murder in July 2008. She was sentenced to death shortly after.
On the night of the incident, Lucio and the child’s father contacted paramedics to their Harlingen home in reference to their daughter. Investigators found Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter covered in bruises, bite marks, and a broken arm. EMT personnel stated the child was not breathing and had nobody near her when they arrived.
Lucio told police that her daughter fell down the stairs and that caused her death, according to court documents. However, Lucio also stated she was responsible for the bite mark and bruise marks on her body.
She told investigators that she was not angry at the 2-year-old child, but was frustrated with her other 13 children when the bite incident occurred.
During the case trial, a pathologist testified that the child’s autopsy revealed she did not die from falling downstairs and instead her injuries were consistent with a death from blunt-force trauma. Furthermore, court documents state the emergency room doctor that attempted to revive Lucio’s daughter stated it was the worst case of child abuse he had ever seen.
Lucio’s defense attempted to argue that these injuries were in fact from falling down the stairs and that her “psychological functioning” contributed to her conflicting reports given to police. Defense attorneys also argued that because Lucio told the truth to police about her beating her child that they should believe her when she said she did not hit deliver the fatal blow to her daughter’s head.
Lucio is the first Hispanic woman on death row in Texas. Her story became the subject of the 2020 documentary The State of Texas vs. Melissa.
The documentary highlights some of the legal issues presented in the trial’s early stages.
Lucio’s execution date is set for April 27.