BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Melissa Lucio is days away from her execution date, and her family, as well as advocates, are asking for clemency. In a meeting held in Austin at the Commission on Criminal Justice Reform, Interim Study they heard from juror members and legal experts to discuss Lucio’s case.
Melissa Lucio was sentenced to death in 2008, for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Mariah. However, Committee Chairman Jeff Leach said they want to halt Lucio’s April 27 execution following questions about her trial.
“What I want to know more than anything as a citizen of this great state, is that the system can be trusted, that it’s fair, that it is reliable, and right now what I have as a policymaker is severe and sincere questions and concerns rather that is true,” said Leach.
Johnny Galvan is one of five members of the jury who regrets sentencing Lucio to Capital murder. He had his daughter read his written testimony at the meeting, revealing he would have changed his vote during the trial if he felt he knew everything.
“I didn’t know that is a long history of physical and sexual abuse that made her vulnerable to falsely confess. No one took us through the interrogation to show us how many times she asserted her innocence,” said Galvan.
Leach says one of Lucio’s options is for Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz to withdraw the execution date, since according to the committee, Saenz requested an execution date for Lucio, which at first Saenz said he wouldn’t.
“I’m not going to usurp the authority of the court of criminal appeals of the rights that they upheld, of the district court, of the circuit panel, of the Supreme Court I’m not going to all of a sudden unilaterally say ‘well I don’t care what they did and recall the warrant. I’m not going to do that,” said Saenz.
However, Leach says Saenz has the ability to halt the execution date for Lucio.
“I’m just going to state it, that you have the power right now tonight to withdraw this request. To push the pause button on this execution so exactly what you just said can take place so we can have new evidence presented, so there can be opportunity for cross-examination,” said Leach.
Later on in the meeting, Saenz told the committee why he does not believe Lucio’s execution will happen April 27.
Saenz says, “I believe the court of criminal appeals will issue a stay.” In return Leach asked him, “and why do you believe they will do that?” Saenz says, “because there’s a lot of pending motions that need to be heard.”
When asked by the Committee if the court does not take action by the time of Lucio’s execution date, Saenz says he will step in.
“To answer your question, I’m being asked if a court of criminal appeals or federal district court or any court with the jurisdiction over this case does not issue a stay by that day and there’s still motions pending then the right thing to do is not to go through with this execution and at that time I would ask for the warrant to be withdrawn.” However Saenz says there is an issue if it comes to that point, “now the problem that we have, is that I would have to ask the 138th District Court to withdraw the warrant. The defense has filed a motion to recuse said judge, so said judge wouldn’t be able to act on my particular request unless that issue has been put to rest by that time.”
Leach believes and hopes it can be worked out before Lucio’s execution date, if all three parties talk about it.