BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has halted the execution of Melissa Lucio.
Lucio was scheduled to be executed on April 27 after being convicted of murdering her two-year-old daughter in 2007.
Along with the stay of execution, they ordered the 138th Judicial District Court of Cameron County to consider new evidence in the murder case involving her daughter Mariah, according to the InnocenceProject.
According to the Texas Tribune, the court sent Lucio’s case back to Cameron County where her trial was originally tried. Cameron County’s public portal lists a motion to consider the rescheduling or withdrawing Lucio’s execution date for Monday.
In 2008, Lucio was found guilty of killing her child, Mariah.
On the night of the incident, Lucio and the child’s father contacted paramedics at their Harlingen home in reference to their daughter. Investigators found Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter covered in bruises, bite marks, and a broken arm. EMT personnel stated the child was not breathing and had nobody near her when they arrived.
Lucio told police that her daughter fell down the stairs and that caused her death, according to court documents. However, Lucio also stated she was responsible for the bite mark and bruise marks on her body.
She told investigators that she was not angry at the 2-year-old child, but was frustrated with her other 13 children when the bite incident occurred.
During the case trial, a pathologist testified that the child’s autopsy revealed she did not die from falling downstairs and instead her injuries were consistent with a death from blunt-force trauma. Furthermore, court documents state the emergency room doctor that attempted to revive Lucio’s daughter stated it was the worst case of child abuse he had ever seen.
Lucio’s defense attempted to argue that these injuries were in fact from falling down the stairs and that her “psychological functioning” contributed to her conflicting reports given to police. Defense attorneys also argued that because Lucio told the truth to police about her beating her child that they should believe her when she said she did not hit deliver the fatal blow to her daughter’s head.
Despite the defense’s arguments, Lucio was found guilty of capital murder in July 2008. She was sentenced to death shortly after.
Lucio attempted multiple appeals over the next decade but exhausted just about every effort.
During her litigation, Lucio earned notoriety as the first Hispanic woman on death row in Texas. Her story became the subject of the 2020 documentary The State of Texas vs. Melissa.
The documentary highlights some of the legal issues presented in the trial’s early stages such as making note of the former district attorney who prosecuted the case’s legal troubles by taking bribes in exchange for outcomes in trials. The film series also takes aim at Lucio’s lack of a fair defense and paints her as a person possibly coerced into giving a confession.
Since her execution date was set for April 27 in February, a nationwide effort was kicked off by supporters who believe Lucio is innocent.
Melissa Lucio released the following statement through the Innocence Project:
“I thank God for my life. I have always trusted in Him. 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. I will use my time to help bring them to Christ. I am deeply grateful to everyone who prayed for me and spoke out on my behalf.”Melissa Lucio, April 25.