Today (April 27), 53-year-old mother of 14 Melissa Lucio was scheduled to be executed in Texas for the 2007 death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah. Lucio would have been the first Hispanic woman in the state to receive this punishment, but her execution was stayed.
At the time of her trial, prosecutors claimed Mariah’s death was the result of “beating and torturing.” Lucio always maintained her innocence, insisting that the child tragically died from an “accidental fall.”
Lucio’s lawyer Sandra Babcock told BBC that at the time of Mariah’s death, the family lived in “extreme poverty,” even moving over 25 times in a five-year period.
On Feb. 15, 2007, the family was in the middle of yet another move when Mariah had been left briefly unattended. Later, Lucio found the child crying in a staircase inside the building with blood coming from her mouth.
The toddler’s autopsy report showed bruising to her lungs and kidneys.
Babcock said Lucio’s interrogation came after she learned about her daughter’s death and lasted for over five hours without food or water. “They badgered, berated and yelled at her until she finally agreed to their demands and [insisted] that she was guilty of harming her child,” she said.
As a minority living in South Texas without access to a good attorney, Lucio was given a court-appointed lawyer. Lucio’s current legal aid suggests the former counsel made grave errors during the original trial.
Lucio’s family and celebrities like Kim Kardashian have spoken up in her defense.
On Monday (April 25), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution in her case, citing errors from the original trial as well as new information.
Kim Kardashian tweeted, “Best news ever! Melissa Lucio has been on death row for over 14 years for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident. She is getting a hearing on her claims for her case & has been granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.”
Although still on death row, Lucio’s case will now be reviewed again.
Lucio released a statement saying, “I am grateful the Court has given me the chance to live and prove my innocence. Mariah is in my heart today and always. I am grateful to have more days to be a mother to my children and a grandmother to my grandchildren.”
Best news ever! 🙏🏼 Melissa Lucio has been on death row for over 14 years for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident. She is getting a hearing on her claims for her case & has been granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. https://t.co/NuCv4vOgJl
— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) April 26, 2022