Just two days before Melissa Lucion’s execution date, a Texas court suspended the execution and sent the case back for review.
Lucio, a mother of 14 children, has been on the death row in Texas since 2008, when she was convicted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter a year earlier. But he, his family and lawyers say he is innocent and was unjustifiably convicted of a serious crime.
Prosecutors at the trial claimed that Lucio, now 53, was an abusive mother who caused injuries that resulted in the death of her daughter, Mariah. According to Lucio’s lawyers, the injuries were actually caused by falling off the stairs outside the family’s apartment.
We know the following:
what happened this week
The Texas Criminal Court on Monday decided to suspend execution, delay Lucio’s execution indefinitely, and ordered a court to try to review several of the charges highlighted by his team, including his allegation that he was innocent.
Lucio, his attorney, and his family, including a son, Bobby Alvarez, received news that told reporters that he and his brother were trying to decide what to do on Mother’s Day.
Lucio received information about the freeze from Jeff Leach, a representative of the state of Texas, who, along with a majority of both parties in the state legislature, defended his case and asked for relief or retrial.
Lucio cried on Monday after hearing the news that he would not be executed on Wednesday, according to a voice recording acquired by CNN.
“I thank the court for allowing me to live and prove my innocence,” Lucio said in a statement. “Mary is in my heart today and always.”
Separately on Monday, all attention was focused on the Texas Pardon and Probation Board, which was expected to vote on the amnesty recommendation in Lucio’s case. But minutes before the government’s decision was presented, the Texas Criminal Court issued its decision.
The Council then announced that it would not vote at that time.
Monday’s decision followed months of work by Lucion’s attorneys, including Innocence Project attorneys, and increasing requests for pardon. In addition to Texas lawmakers and celebrity Kim Kardashian, Lucio’s arguments were enough to persuade at least five juries to publicly request a moratorium on the execution and a retrial on the basis of evidence that was never allowed to hear it.
what happens next
An order from the Court of Appeals sends Lucio’s case to the court where he was convicted in the 138th District of Cameron County, on the Mexican border at the southernmost tip of Texas.
The Court of Appeal denied or referred back a number of allegations made by Lucio in his application for an order in the habeas Corpus – which requires an official to show a valid reason for the person’s arrest – and ordered the court to conduct a “review of merits.”
Brownsville’s lowest court to continue the trial to hear evidence of Lucion’s innocence, Tivon Schardl, one of Lucion’s attorneys and the head of the Federal State Defense Agency’s Capital Habeas unit in west Texas, said in a statement Monday. press conference.
After reviewing Lucio’s allegations and evidence, the court made a recommendation to the Texas Criminal Court, which would ultimately decide whether Lucio should be reconsidered.
It is not known for sure how long the process may take. “We want Melissa to reach her audience as soon as possible,” Schardl said. “We can’t say exactly how long, but we really don’t want him to spend a day in jail as absolutely necessary.”
As the case progresses, he will remain on death row with his legal team.
The court will investigate the allegations
Lucio and his team had filed nine appeals to the Court of Appeal, four of which were transferred to the Court of First Instance. According to the Court of Appeal, Lucio’s other charges did not meet the statutory requirements and will not be re-examined.
Of the four:
• The first alleges that no jury would have condemned Lucio if the prosecutors had not presented false, misleading and scientifically invalid evidence through experts. This includes a medical researcher who, according to Lucio’s application, says he performed an autopsy on Mariah, “ignoring the indications that the farm that led to Mariah’s death had another cause,” testifying that the injuries could only have been caused by assault without examining the fallen stairs. two days earlier.
• The second argument is that new scientific evidence would prevent Lucio from being convicted. Among the arguments is that Lucio was particularly inclined to give false confession about surviving the sexual abuse and domestic violence of his life.
• The third argument of Lucio’s lawyers is that scientific evidence shows that Mariah was not murdered. As a result, they argue, in part, that its implementation would violate constitutional guarantees of the right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
• The fourth alleges that the State suppressed pro-defense evidence, which violated the right to a fair trial. Among the muted evidence, according to her attorneys, is evidence that police and prosecutors knew that other family members knew about Mariah’s fall from the stairs and that no one had described Mariah’s alleged assault.
CNN contacted the prosecutor’s office to comment.
Melissa can still run
Yes, the decision of the Court of Appeal does not change Lucio’s verdict. And despite Monday’s execution, she is still on death row, Vanessa Potkin, director of special trials at Project Innocence, said at a news conference Monday.
However, the decision to delay Lucion’s execution “indefinitely,” Potkin said when he has the first opportunity to present new evidence of his innocence in court.
“The end result may be that he can get a trial again,” Potkin said, “and we’re sure that if Melissa were taken back today, she would be released.”