Saturday, April 13

Texas delays the execution of Melissa Lucio, who asks to review her case

  • The woman could be tried again after denouncing her defense that she presented a coerced confession and that false evidence was shown

Two days before the scheduled date for the Latina execution Melissa Lucioa Texas appeals court announced Monday the suspension of the sentence and requested that a lower judicial instance review the case, something that could lead to a new trial after she has spent 14 years in prison. “The State has given us the opportunity to go back to court and present the evidence of Melissa’s innocence that no court has been able to analyze,” Vanessa Potkin, a representative of the Innocence Project, explained at a press conference shortly after the decision was made known. one of the organizations that has provided legal assistance to Lucio, accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2007.

As a huge storm of water fell on Austin, the capital of Texas, John Lucio and Bobby Álvarez, two of Melissa’s sons, received the good news in Gatesville, the small town in rural Texas where their mother is incarcerated. Until there they had moved to spend as much time as possible together during what were going to be the last hours of her mother, who was going to receive a lethal injection this Wednesday.

Some images published by the filmmaker Sabrina Van Tassel, one of Melissa’s greatest supporters and who produced a documentary about the long list of irregularities that plagued her case, showed the exultant and emotional relatives. Like the defendant herself, she received the good news from Jeff Leach, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, who has led the efforts of state legislators. More than half of them signed a letter last month asking for the execution to be delayed so that her case could be properly analyzed. “She was crying her eyes out and she couldn’t find the words. She greatly appreciates the fact that what has happened today has been achieved thanks to the energy of so many people,” Potkin added.

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“An unprecedented support” that Melissa has received, according to what her team of lawyers highlighted on Monday, which is “an indication of the amount of evidence that there is of her innocence, and that no one wanted to see how a woman was killed for a crime that never happened. The Texas Court of Appeals for Criminal Offenses itself specified several aspects of your case that the courts will have to review of Cameron County, where the death of the minor, Mariah, the twelfth daughter of Lucio, took place. Among them, the court highlights the fact that several jurors in the Lucio case have publicly affirmed that if they had known all the evidence on the case, they would not have pronounced themselves in favor of the death penalty. In addition, he points to various scientific evidence that has come to light and the fact that the Prosecutor’s Office hid evidence favorable to Lucio.

Now, a process begins in which the judicial apparatus must decide whether to hold a new trial. “The trial court now has to decide whether there have been violations of the human and constitutional rights of Melissa and if he deserves a new trialSandra Babcock, another of Lucio’s lawyers, explained. In the event that the Cameron County court establishes that another trial should be held, that ruling must be ratified by the Texas Court of Appeals, and then a new process would begin. with a new jury.

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Lucio’s representatives, however, are even more optimistic, thinking that Melissa could even be free without the need for another legal process. “We hope that if we are able to get a new trial, the prosecutor might decide not to seek a new conviction because we believe there is no reliable evidence that could show Melissa’s guilt. Melissa is not guilty and Mariah’s death was a tragic accident,” Babcock settled.

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Melissa Lucio was accused in 2007 of beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, but she always assured that the minor died after falling down some access stairs to her residence at the time, in the Texas town of Harlingen, near the border. with Mexico. A few hours after her death, Lucio was aggressively interrogated for five hours without the presence of a lawyer, which led to a coerced confession. The public defender who defended Melissa did not present evidence in her favor and did not want the rest of her children to testify at trial to talk about her affable and calm character. According to Lucio’s current lawyers, the Prosecutor’s Office also presented false evidence at trial.

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