Apr 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Over 100 Texas lawmakers urge state to halt Melissa Lucio execution

Melissa Lucio, who is facing execution in the Texas this month over the death of her daughter, stands behind a glass window while wearing a white jumpsuit in prison
Melissa Lucio poses for a portrait behind glass at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, on March 21. Photo: Courtesty of Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Innocence Project

More than 100 Texas lawmakers have signed letters urging state officials to cancel the scheduled April 27 execution of Melissa Lucio.

The big picture: Lucio, 53, has asked for clemency, saying she was wrongly convicted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter.

  • Lucio's lawyers and children have launched a massive campaign to save her.
  • Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who has been vocal about prison reform, have spoken out in Lucio's defense.

Driving the news: Twenty of the state Senate's 31 members signed a letter late on Wednesday saying the board should consider new scientific evidence showing Lucio's daughter, Mariah, died after a tragic accident, not an intentional murder.

  • "While we understand the gravity of the issue before you and the important role that the Board of Pardons and Paroles plays in our criminal justice system, we also believe this is an opportunity to prevent a miscarriage of justice that would undermine public trust in our legal system," the senators wrote.
  • The senators joined over 80 members of Texas House of Representatives who signed a similar letter late last month.
  • On Tuesday, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz was grilled by legislators during a hearing that included Lucio's children, the Texas Tribune reported.
  • Saenz, who requested the execution date, first said he would not intervene, but later shifted his stance, saying he'd do so if a court didn't do so.

Flashback: Lucio was sentenced to death in 2008, a year after Mariah’s death in Harlingen, Texas.

  • Lucio repeatedly denied she hurt Mariah during a five-hour interrogation, her lawyers say.
  • According to attorneys and experts, Lucio’s lifetime of being abused informed her decision to eventually tell police “I guess I did it.”
  • In 2019, she was granted a new trial, but that decision was overturned by an appeals court.
  • The Supreme Court last year declined to review the case. In a court filing at the time, the Texas attorney general's office pointed to an autopsy that found Mariah died from “blunt force head trauma."

Go deeper: Texas woman set to be executed next month appeals for clemency

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