Bipartisan Groups Urge 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 enough proof—however she continues to be set to be executed subsequent month.

Melissa Lucio’s attorneys are preventing to overturn her conviction and put aside her execution date based mostly on her continued innocence claims and different procedural points. (Courtesy of the Lucio staff 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 dying of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah. They be part of a whole bunch 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 based mostly, partly, on new data and professional testimony calling into doubt Lucio’s guilt included within the clemency application just lately filed by her legal professionals.

The clemency software challenges the validity of the “confession” elicited beneath duress from Lucio on the evening Mariah died, two days after she fell down a flight of stairs. Affidavits from internationally acknowledged specialists on false confessions have concluded that Lucio’s “confession” was basically a regurgitation of data prompt by male investigators throughout her five-hour interrogation. Actually, 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 vulnerable 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.

The conclusions of the medical expert who decided Mariah might solely have died from little one abuse are additionally known as into query by the clemency software. At Lucio’s trial, the medical expert informed the jury that little one abuse was the one doable clarification for Mariah’s accidents, but statements from seven forensic specialists, together with a pediatric forensic pathologist, help the conclusion that Mariah’s dying might have been attributable to medical issues from her fall, slightly than bodily abuse. Youngster Protecting Providers had adopted the household for years however had by no means documented any bodily abuse and Lucio’s kids informed the police that no bodily abuse occurred.  

The trial courtroom didn’t enable Lucio’s unique protection staff to current proof to elucidate her statements, and the protection by no means introduced an alternate idea for Mariah’s dying. 4 jurors and an alternate juror submitted statements in help of Lucio’s clemency software, alleging that the presentation of such proof would have had a cloth impression on deliberations.

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

The clemency software 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 known as for an ambulance, but investigators by no means questioned Alvarez’s explanations relating to 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 damage to a toddler by omission for failing to hunt medical care whereas Lucio was sentenced to capital homicide.

“Police and prosecutors handled Robert and Melissa otherwise from begin to end,” stated Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Middle on the Demise Penalty Worldwide and one among Lucio’s attorneys. “Police expressed empathy to Robert, saying they have been sorry for the lack of his daughter. They apologized for asking tough questions. They known as him ‘Sir.’ They gave him a cigarette. They heard him out.

“Against this, they handled Melissa like a felony,” Babcock continued, “despite the fact that she had no file 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 dying—and we now know that Mariah’s dying 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 staff’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 suggestion, it is going to be despatched to Governor Abbott for approval—or the governor can delay the execution by 30 days unilaterally.

At a press briefing, 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, known as “the ultimate punishment.” But when neither the Board of Pardons and Paroles nor Governor Abbott heeds these calls, subsequent month Lucio—who possible didn’t commit any crime in any respect—will obtain the dying penalty.

Take Motion

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

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