Kim Kardashian celebrates Melissa Lucio execution delay: ‘Best news ever’

Reality star helped raise profile of case

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 25 April 2022 21:20 BST
Melissa Lucio's son says 'I don't want to see my mom die'

Kim Kardashian is celebrating a decision by a Texas court to temporarily call off the imminent execution of Melissa Lucio, a mother of 14 who activists say was wrongfully given the death penalty for the accidental 2007 death of her baby daughter.

“Best news ever!” Ms Kardashian wrote on Monday on Twitter. “Melissa Lucio has been on death row for over 14 years for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident.”

Lucio, who was scheduled to be put to death this Wednesday, was given the death penalty for the 2007 death of her daughter Mariah, though advocates argue the mother of 14 was wrongly implicated in the death and the victim of a coercive police investigation.

Ms Kardashian, who has become an increasingly vocal voice in the criminal justice world in recent years, helped bring natinoal attention to the innocence campaign around Melissa Lucio.

“It’s stories like Melissa’s that make me speak so loud about the death penalty in general and why it should be banned when innocent people are suffering,” the reality star wrote on social media earlier this month.

Activists say the problems with Lucio’s conviction are numerous.

Within a day of her daughter being found dead, Lucio was interrogated for seven hours by a group of armed policemen, who berated her as she claimed her innocence over 100 times, according to a clemency application her attorneys have filed with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Lucio, who was grief-stricken, pregnant with twins at the time, and exhausted as questioning stretched to 3am, eventually appeared to admit to spanking and biting her child, which prosecutors alleged proved her guilt in Mariah’s death.

No witnesses or physical evidence directly tied Lucio to the death, and members of her family insist she was never violent with them. They also say they saw Mariah’s siblings harming her around the time of the death.

However, these claims were not heard during Lucio’s original trial, as her lawyer declined to include testimony from the family.

Activists also took issue to the stark disparity in sentencing in the case, with Lucio facing a death sentence while her husband at the time only got a few years in prison.

On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals temporarily paused the execution, sending the case back to its original trial court to consider new claims related to false testimony, medical evidence, and the state withholding exculpatory information.

It’s the culmination of a growing nationwide innocence movement that’s been trying to stop the execution.

In addition to Ms Kardashian, everyone from documentary filmmakers on Hulu to Republican legislators in Texas have been calling for officials to stop the death sentence from being carried out.

Sabrina Van Tassel, who directed the acclaimed 2020 documentary The State of Texas vs Melissa, praised Kim Kardashian for adding momentum to the innocence campaign.

“I am so grateful because she has an incredible fame that she’s using in the right way,” she said. “With one tweet, she can change the life of a person and she does it. A lot of celebrities don’t do it.”

Ms Kardashian was also a major figure in the campaign to free Julius Jones, an Oklahoma death row inmate who was sentenced to die for a 1999 murder-carjacking in Oklahoma City.

Jones’s execution was called off by the governor at the last second, who converted the death sentence to one of life in prison.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in