Melissa Lucio was scheduled for execution on Monday, but a Texas court has granted a stay, preventing her from facing lethal injection for now.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution for Melissa Lucio on Monday, postponing her execution scheduled for Wednesday and remanding her case to the trial court to consider new evidence.
According to an audio recording of the conversation obtained by CNN, state Rep. Jeff Leach called Lucio to deliver the news Melissa Lucio, and she immediately sobbed on the phone, realizing she wouldn’t be executed this week.
“Oh, thank you God,” Lucio exclaimed, barely able to speak through her tears after hearing the news from Leach.
Lucio, her family, advocates Melissa Lucio, and attorneys claim she was wrongfully convicted of capital murder in the death of her toddler Mariah in 2007.
“I am grateful to God for my life.
I’ve always had faith in Him Melissa Lucio “According to a statement released by Lucio’s legal team.
“I am grateful to the Court for allowing me to live and prove my innocence.
Mariah will always be in my heart.”
Bobby Alvarez, Lucio’s son, said the family is now looking forward to Mother’s Day.
“We were actually talking about it today, what we’re going to do for Mother’s Day,” Alvarez said.
“So I’m guessing she wants a lot of cards.”
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Lucio was an abusive mother who most likely caused the injuries that led to her daughter’s death Melissa Lucio. But, according to Lucio and her attorneys, Mariah’s injuries were caused by a fall down a staircase outside the family’s second-floor apartment two days before her death, not abuse.
The appellate court ordered the trial court to consider four of the nine claims Lucio raised in her habeas petition, including her claims that she is innocent and that new scientific evidence precludes her conviction Melissa Lucio.
Lucio also claimed that the state relied on false testimony and suppressed evidence in her favor.
Prosecutors have been contacted by CNN for comment.
According to her legal team, Lucio will remain on death row despite the stay.
The decision of the court postpones Lucio’s execution while the trial court considers the merits of her claims.
The trial court in Brownsville, according to Lucio’s attorneys, will hold proceedings to hear evidence of Lucio’s innocence.
Tivon Schardl, one of Lucio’s attorneys, said at a virtual news conference Monday that the court would then make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which would ultimately decide whether Lucio should be granted a new trial.
“There’s still a long way to go in Melissa’s case, and there’s much more that stands between Melissa and an exoneration,” said Vanessa Potkin, the Innocence Project’s director of special litigation, whose attorneys are also working on Lucio’s case.
“However, today’s stay and remand to hold hearings on new evidence of her innocence really opens the door to the possibility of a new trial in her case, and ultimately, complete vindication,” Potkin told reporters.
Lucio’s family attended the press conference to express gratitude to her legal team.
Separately Melissa Lucio, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to recommend clemency in Lucio’s case on Monday, citing the stay of execution.
There are a plethora of reasons to be skeptical.
Lucio’s case gained national attention after it was featured in the documentary “The State of Texas vs. Melissa” in 2020.
In recent weeks, there has been an increase in calls for leniency:
A bipartisan majority of the Texas legislature, as well as celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, have called for mercy. Melissa Lucio Perhaps most importantly, five members of Lucio’s jury have come forward to say that her execution should be halted or that she should be given a new trial based on evidence they did not hear.
Mariah’s body was covered in bruises “in various stages of healing” when she died, her arm had been broken several weeks before, and she had a bite mark on her back, according to court documents.
These injuries, according to the state’s case, were caused by abuse.
At trial, the state’s medical examiner testified that Mariah died as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head Melissa Lucio, referring to her as a “battered child.”
An ER doctor who attempted to resuscitate Mariah described the situation as the “absolute worst” case of child abuse he had ever seen.
However, Lucio, a mother of 14, and her attorneys maintain that she is innocent and that Mariah’s injuries were caused by a fall down a steep staircase outside the family’s apartment.
According to Lucio’s attorneys, authorities ignored or discounted evidence that could have proven her innocence because of a misunderstanding about the fall.
They claim Lucio never abused her children and point to over a thousand pages of Child Protective Services records from the time.
According to her clemency petition, the records “tell a story of Melissa’s love for the children, as well as her inability to properly care for them,” pointing to the family’s struggle with poverty and Lucio’s drug addiction. However, according to her attorneys, no of the children ever reported being abused by Lucio in the CPS records.
Lucio was convicted in large part, her attorneys contended, because of a coerced “confession” she gave authorities during a “aggressive” late-night interrogation the night her daughter died.
However, Lucio’s attorneys claimed that she only “vaguely” admitted to being responsible for her daughter’s injuries and never admitted to being responsible for Mariah’s death.
Lucio was especially vulnerable to coercion because she had been a lifelong survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence, according to her attorneys, who cited medical experts who reviewed the case.
Lucio’s legal team has provided additional explanations for Mariah’s injuries, citing medical experts once more: They believe her bruises were caused by her fall and a blood coagulation disorder, and a fractured arm is not uncommon in toddlers, especially one with a documented history of falling like Mariah.
“There are numerous reasons for doubt here,” her attorneys wrote in Lucio’s clemency petition.
“The prospect that the State may shed innocent blood for a death Melissa Lucio did not cause, much less intend, should enrage Texans.”
This report was contributed to by CNN’s Amir Vera, Claudia Dominguez, Jenn Selva, and Natasha Chen.