Bipartisan Group Urges Reconsideration of Melissa Lucio’s Death Sentence

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New proof and an in-depth investigation of Lucio’s interrogation reveal lack of adequate proof—however she remains to be set to be executed on Wednesday, April 27.

Melissa Lucio’s attorneys are preventing to overturn her conviction and put aside her execution date primarily based on her continued innocence claims and different procedural points. (Courtesy of the Lucio crew via the Innocence Project)

A bipartisan group of Texas state lawmakers has asked authorities to rethink the scheduled April 27 execution of Melissa Lucio, who was convicted of murder in 2008 for the loss of life of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah. They be part of lots of of different Texans—together with 225 anti-domestic violence teams, 130 religion leaders and 30 Latino organizations—in urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to grant Lucio a reprieve. These appeals are primarily based, partly, on new data and professional testimony calling into doubt Lucio’s guilt included within the clemency application not too long ago filed by her legal professionals.

The clemency utility challenges the validity of the “confession” elicited below duress from Lucio on the evening Mariah died, two days after she fell down a flight of stairs. Affidavits from internationally acknowledged consultants on false confessions have concluded that Lucio’s “confession” was basically a regurgitation of data urged by male investigators throughout her five-hour interrogation. The truth is, Lucio maintained her innocence 86 instances verbally and 35 instances non-verbally over the course of 5 hours of harsh questioning. Survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, like Lucio, are extremely prone to creating a false confession on account of previous trauma, and research point out that women are more vulnerable to creating false confessions than males.

Seven forensic consultants, together with a pediatric forensic pathologist, help the conclusion that Mariah’s loss of life may have been brought on by medical issues from her fall, somewhat than bodily abuse.

The conclusions of the health worker who decided Mariah may solely have died from youngster abuse are additionally referred to as into query by the clemency utility. At Lucio’s trial, the health worker advised the jury that youngster abuse was the one doable clarification for Mariah’s accidents—but statements from seven forensic consultants, together with a pediatric forensic pathologist, help the conclusion that Mariah’s loss of life may have been brought on by medical issues from her fall, somewhat than bodily abuse. Youngster Protecting Companies had adopted the household for years however had by no means documented any bodily abuse and Lucio’s kids advised the police that no bodily abuse occurred.  

The trial court docket didn’t permit Lucio’s authentic protection crew to current proof to clarify her statements, and the protection by no means introduced an alternate principle for Mariah’s loss of life. 4 jurors and an alternate juror submitted statements in help of Lucio’s clemency utility, alleging that the presentation of such proof would have had a fabric influence on deliberations.

The clemency utility additionally outlines the troubling gendered double requirements in Lucio’s case. Each Robert Alvarez, Mariah’s father, and Lucio have been at residence and equal caretakers after they referred to as for an ambulance, but investigators by no means questioned Alvarez’s explanations concerning Mariah’s accidents. In distinction, investigators have been hostile to and skeptical of Lucio, treating her as a suspect instantly. Finally, Alvarez was sentenced only to four years for inflicting harm to a toddler by omission for failing to hunt medical care whereas Lucio was sentenced to capital homicide.

Each Robert Alvarez, Mariah’s father, and Lucio have been at residence and equal caretakers after they referred to as for an ambulance—but investigators by no means questioned Alvarez’s explanations concerning Mariah’s accidents.

“Police and prosecutors handled Robert and Melissa in another way from begin to end,” mentioned Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Heart on the Dying Penalty Worldwide and one in all Lucio’s attorneys. “Police expressed empathy to Robert, saying they have been sorry for the lack of his daughter. They apologized for asking troublesome questions. They referred to as him ‘Sir.’ They gave him a cigarette. They heard him out.

“In contrast, they handled Melissa like a felony,” Babcock continued, “although she had no report of violence or abuse. They badgered her repeatedly, interrupting her and insisting she was responsible. The differential therapy of Robert and Melissa can solely be attributable to gender bias. On the time of the police interrogation, no proof indicated that both dad or mum was accountable for Mariah’s loss of life—and we now know that Mariah’s loss of life was an accident. But the police went after Melissa as a result of they concluded she was not behaving as a grieving mom ought to.”

Lucio’s case is the topic of a 2020 Hulu documentary, The State of Texas vs. Melissa, which helps her protection crew’s claims of innocence and presents proof of this abuse. (The State of Texas vs Melissa by way of Hulu /  Sabrina Van Tassel)

The clemency petition requests that the Board of Pardons and Paroles train its broad discretion by commuting Lucio’s sentence to life in jail or delaying her execution for 120 days as she seeks a brand new trial. Ought to the Board make a advice, will probably be despatched to Governor Abbott for approval—or the governor can delay the execution by 30 days unilaterally.

At a press briefing final month, Texas lawmakers from each events defined that leniency is warranted on account of unfairness within the investigation and prosecution of Lucio. The lawmakers also urged consideration of credible new proof of Lucio’s innocence to keep away from unjustly meting out what Rep. Lacey Hull, a freshman Republican state senator, referred to as “the ultimate punishment.”

But when neither the Board of Pardons and Paroles nor Governor Abbott heeds these calls, Lucio—who possible didn’t commit any crime in any respect—will obtain the loss of life penalty.

Take Motion

Add your title to the petition to cease Melissa Lucio’s execution here.

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