Liveupdated1650991124

Melissa Lucio - latest: Family look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day after stay of execution

Follow live updates on Melissa Lucio’s fight for her life

Melissa Lucio sobs as she learns her life has been saved

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Melissa Lucio a stay of execution on Monday and ordered a court to consider new evidence in her case, just 48 hours before she was scheduled to be put to death.

Lucio was told the news in an emotional phone call with Texas Rep Jeff Leach where the Hispanic mother-of-14 sobbed and gasped, asking “are you serious?”

In a statement, the 53-year-old thanked God for saving her life and paid tribute to her late daughter Mariah who “is in my heart today and always”.

Lucio’s attorneys and supporters also celebrated the ruling including Kim Kardashian who called it the “best news ever”.

The last-minute stay came minutes before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was to recommend whether or not Lucio’s death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment or if she should be granted a 120-day execution reprieve. The parole board said it would not recommend clemency after the stay was announced.

Lucio was sentenced to death for the 2007 murder of her two-year-old daughter Mariah.

Her lawyers say she was coerced into a false confession during an aggressive police interrogation and that scientific evidence shows Mariah died from a fall.

1650991124

Watch Melissa Lucio’s family speak out after she is granted stay of execution

Melissa Lucio’s family members spoke at a heartfelt press conference on Monday evenings after she was granted a last-minute stay of execution.

Her sons John Lucio and Bobby Alvarez thanked everyone who had supported their mother in her fight for her life and told how they were overcome with emotion when they heard the news.

Watch part of the press conference here:

Melissa Lucio's family celebrates her stay of execution
Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 17:38
1650985239

Melissa Lucio’s son says her ‘prayers have been answered'

Melissa Lucio’s son said that his mother’s “prayers have been answered” after she was granted a last-minute stay on Monday, with just 48 hours to go until her looming execution.

John Lucio was joined by his brother Bobby Alvarez, wife Michelle Lucio and several supporters at a press conference in Gatesville, Texas, on Monday evening following the news that his mother’s life had been spared.

He thanked everyone who has joined in the fight to save his mother’s life from “all across the globe”.

“We’re just one big ol’ team, you know, putting up the fight for my mother,” he said.

Mr Lucio said the family believes that “God put these people in our lives” to help his mother in her plight.

“I find it really, really amazing. I mean, we are all believers in God and we believe that God put these people in our lives,” he said.

“My mother is a big believer in God. Her prayers have been persistent, like that widow in the Bible, and her prayers have been answered.”

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 16:00
1650983439

Issues raised in Melissa Lucio’s case

Melissa Lucio’s legal team have raised many issues and questions around her conviction for the murder of her daughter Mariah.

Here are the main arguments presented by her legal team which they say support Lucio’s innocence:

No crime was even committed – Lucio says that Mariah’s death was caused by an accidental fall down the stairs

False confession – Just hours after her daughter’s death, Lucio was subjected to a five-hour interrogation by armed, male police officers who accused her of beating her child to death. They berated the pregnant, grieving mother and “extensively manipulated her” refusing to believe her version of events and showing her photos of her dead baby, according to her clemency application.

During the interrogation, Lucio insisted more than 100 times that she hadn’t abused her daughter, according to the clemency application. But, she finally caved and admitted that she sometimes spanked Mariah. “I guess I did it,” she said – words that were then taken as a confession.

Top false confession experts say that Lucio gave a “coerced false confession” after the vulnerable woman was “fed” words and facts by armed male authority figures during an “aggressive” interrogation. The experts say that Lucio was especially vulnerable to being led to making a false confession because of her history as a victim of abuse.

False scientific evidence at her trial – The medical examiner announced to the court that Mariah was “a battered child”, that her injuries must have occurred within 24 hours of her death, that her injuries had to be caused by abuse and could not have come from a fall, and that there were bite marks on her body.

Seven top medical and forensic experts have now concluded that the original medical examiner’s testimony was wrong.

Instead, they say her injuries are consistent with Lucio’s account and that the bruising on the child’s body was likely caused by Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), a disorder caused by a head trauma from an infection or a fall.

Bite mark analysis – used as evidence at the trial to claim that Mariah was bitten and abused – has also meanwhile been wholly discredited by the scientific community. Experts voted to ban use of such evidence in cases in Texas back in 2016.

Defence testimony denied from trial – Jurors were prevented from hearing from two experts for the defence, a psychologist and a social worker, to testify that her behaviour in the presence of the male authority figure was typical of a battered woman who had suffered years of abuse. The jury also didn’t hear that Lucio’s children had given the same account as their mother to police of their sister’s fall and deterioration of health.

Gender bias – While she was sentenced to death, her husband was given just four years in prison over Mariah’s death on a charge of causing injury to a child by omission and is now free.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 15:30
1650981639

Biden grants clemency to 78 people – but no federal death row inmates

President Joe Biden has granted clemency to 78 people as part of Second Chance Month – but failed to commute the sentences or pardon anyone on federal death row.

On Tuesday, the president announced that he was granting pardons to three people and commuting the sentences of 75 others who have all made efforts to rehabilitate themselves, such as through educational and vocational training or drug treatment in prison.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities,” Mr Biden said in a statement.

“During Second Chance Month, I am using my authority under the Constitution to uphold those values by pardoning and commuting the sentences of fellow Americans.”

All of the individuals are convicted of federal charges, many of them for non-violent drug offences.

The president did not grant clemency to any of the inmates on federal death row – something that he does have the power to do.

As part of his election campaign, Mr Biden said he wanted to abolish the federal death penalty and stop executions in the US.

To date, he is yet to take action on this and has not granted clemency to any inmate on federal death row.

The president’s commutations and pardons come one day after Melissa Lucio was granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

As Lucio is on death row for the state of Texas, her clemency application was sent to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and to Governor Greg Abbott.

After the appeals court issued a stay, the parole board said that it would not grant clemency.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 15:00
1650979839

Melissa Lucio thanks supporters during press conference

Melissa Lucio thanked all the supporters who have rallied behind her in her fight for her life during a press conference on Tuesday evening.

Lucio’s sons John Lucio and Bobby Alvarez and other supporters held a briefing in Gatesville, Texas, following the announcement that she had been granted a stay of execution.

Her sons called their mother, who remains on death row while the legal fight continues, and held the phone up for her to speak to the crowd.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody who has supported me and given me love,” she said.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 14:30
1650978039

Editorial: Why it is beyond time for the US to end the death penalty

Fairness and equity are two values that run through the core of America – or at the very least when it comes to how it perceives itself in the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the protests for racial justice that jolted the nation last year after the murder of George Floyd, have highlighted the fact that America is still a nation riven by inequality.

It is not alone in that regard, countries across the globe – including the UK – are still facing big questions over the same issues.

But that is one issue that the US stands virtually alone in the western world, the use of the death penalty – which is still legal in 27 states.

Read The Independent’s Editorial about why it is beyond time for the US to end the death penalty and why it is adding its voice to a campaign backed by Sheryl Sandberg and Sir Richard Branson:

Editorial: Why it is beyond time for the US to end the death penalty

Editorial: The Independent is adding its voice to a campaign backed by Sheryl Sandberg and Sir Richard Branson

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 14:00
1650976577

Melissa Lucio’s family will now spend Tuesday celebrating with mother on what would have been her last full day

Melissa Lucio’s relieved family members will now spend Tuesday celebrating with the 53-year-old on what, just hours earlier, they believed would be her last full day alive.

Lucio’s son John Lucio told The Independent that he and some of her other children are visiting their mother in prison in Gatesville, Texas, on Tuesday.

The day would have marked their last full day together before her execution which was scheduled for 6pm CT on Wednesday.

But, thanks to Monday’s last-minute stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, it can now be a day of celebration for the family.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 13:36
1650946800

Mariah’s tragic death

On 15 February 2007, Lucio was preparing to move the family from their second-storey apartment to a new home, according to her clemency application.

At some point, Mariah – who had struggled with her mobility since birth due to a turned-in foot as well as other illnesses – managed to open the unlocked screen door leading to the outside stairs of the home and Lucio found the two-year-old at the bottom of the flight of stairs crying, the document states.

At the time, Mariah did not appear to be seriously injured.

But, according to Lucio’s clemency application, Mariah had actually suffered severe internal injuries that would ultimately lead to her death.

Over the next two days, her health worsened and, by 17 February, she was sleeping heavily and refusing to eat.

Lucio put Mariah down for a nap and she didn’t wake up again.

Just hours after her daughter’s death, Lucio – pregnant with twins – was subjected to a five-hour interrogation by armed, male police officers who accused her of beating her child to death.

Melissa Lucio holding Mariah as one of her other daughters stands close by

They berated her and “extensively manipulated her” refusing to believe her version of events, according to her clemency application. They even showed her photos of her dead baby.

During the interrogation, Lucio insisted more than 100 times that she hadn’t abused her daughter but, because of her history as a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, she finally caved and admitted that she sometimes spanked Mariah.

“I guess I did it,” she said – five words that were then taken as a confession that she had murdered her daughter.

At her trial, jurors were prevented from hearing from two experts for the defence – a psychologist and a social worker – to testify that her behaviour in the presence of the male authority figure was typical of a battered woman who had suffered years of abuse.

Meanwhile, the medical examiner announced to the court that Mariah was “a battered child”, that her injuries must have occurred within 24 hours of her death, were caused by being abused and could not have come from a fall, and that there were bite marks on her body – testimony that Lucio’s attorneys say is now proven to be false.

The jury also didn’t hear that Lucio’s children had given the same account as their mother to police of their sister’s fall and deterioration of health.

In 2008, Lucio was convicted of Mariah’s murder and given the death penalty.

She has spent the last 14 years on death row in Texas, where she has been fighting for her freedom – and her life – ever since.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 05:20
1650944458

Melissa Lucio’s son describes toll his mother’s death sentence took on his childhood

Bobby Alvarez “cried every night wanting my momma back” when the state of Texas took him from her care and accused her of murdering his baby sister.

As a self-proclaimed “momma’s boy”, he remembers how he clung to his mother in early childhood, wanting to be with her at all times.

“Growing up I was always a momma’s boy so I was always wanting to be around her. I enjoyed her company. I remember she always played with me and made me laugh,” he told The Independent last week, as his mother was just days away from her scheduled execution.

The 22-year-old spoke out about the toll his mother’s death sentence had taken on his childhood and why he has never doubted her innocence.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Melissa Lucio’s son begs Texas to halt her execution set for next week

EXCLUSIVE: In just six days, Melissa Lucio will be strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs that will kill her for a murder that she not only says she didn’t commit – but that experts say didn’t even occur. Her son Bobby Alvarez tells Rachel Sharp he has never doubted her innocence and has spent the last 15 years just ‘wanting my momma back’

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 04:40
1650942058

Melissa Lucio’s attorneys seek to have judge and DA removed from case

Melissa Lucio’s attorneys are seeking to have a judge and DA removed from her case because two key members of her original defence team are now working for them.

Her legal team filed the motions back in February to remove Judge Gabriela Garcia and Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz from the case including the upcoming evidentiary hearing.

Judge Garcia is assigned to Lucio’s case while DA Saenz requested Lucio’s execution date.

The DA also had the power to withdraw the request – something he gave mixed messages around doing in sworn testimony earlier this month.

While the motions were filed two months ago, they have yet to be ruled on.

With the appeals court now ordering the trial court to review the evidence in Lucio’s case, her attorneys explained that once a judge is assigned the case, they will decide whether to disqualify the DA.

Rachel Sharp26 April 2022 04:00

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

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