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The Texas Court of Legal Appeals on Monday halted the scheduled Wednesday execution of Melissa Lucio, whose dying sentence has drawn intercontinental outcry as additional persons appear to doubt her guilt in her 2-calendar year-outdated daughter’s loss of life.
The courtroom sent Lucio’s scenario back again to the Cameron County court docket in which she was initially tried using to weigh whether or not she is essentially harmless, as effectively as regardless of whether the condition presented wrong testimony at trial and hid proof from the defense. The court’s ruling arrived minutes right before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was scheduled to vote on regardless of whether to recommend that the governor delay Lucio’s execution for at the very least 120 times. The board afterwards reported that it would no longer make a advice mainly because of the court’s ruling.
In a phone connect with with condition Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican who has advocated for her, Lucio was conquer with emotion when Leach informed her she had been granted a stay.
“Are you really serious?” she asked, laughing by means of tears. “That is great. … Oh thank you, God.”
In a statement delivered by her attorneys, Lucio claimed she was thankful for all those who spoke out for her and was “grateful the Court docket has offered me the probability to live and confirm my innocence. Mariah is in my coronary heart right now and always. I am grateful to have far more times to be a mom to my youngsters and a grandmother to my grandchildren.”
Concerns more than Mariah Alvarez’s loss of life and Lucio’s role in it have lingered since the now-53-12 months-aged mother was sentenced to dying in 2008. In latest months, considerations about Lucio’s doable innocence — biggest amongst them irrespective of whether Mariah’s lethal head trauma was brought on by abuse or an accidental drop down the stairs — have only been amplified.
More than two-thirds of the Texas Senate and a the vast majority of the Texas Household of Associates pleaded for the parole board and governor to halt Lucio’s execution. The lawmakers have been joined by an ever-developing listing of people, such as at the very least five of Lucio’s former jurors.
Lucio’s supporters insist there are way too quite a few unaddressed difficulties with the police investigation and her demo to have out her demise sentence with out extra investigation. At Lucio’s demo, the prosecution relied just about totally on an ambiguous “confession” obtained soon after several hours of police interrogation, and the demo decide barred expert testimony that could possibly have stated why she would acknowledge to police matters she didn’t do.
In 2007, Lucio’s spouse and children called 911 soon after they said Mariah was located unresponsive at their Harlingen condominium, court documents demonstrate. The toddler wasn’t breathing, and her overall body was coated with bruises and what police thought to be a chunk mark. An X-ray disclosed her arm had lately been broken.
The health care examiner concluded that Mariah was severely overwhelmed and ruled her demise a homicide brought on by blunt pressure head trauma. At minimum just one other pathologist who has examined the proof considering that disagrees with the definitive obtaining of abuse and murder.
Law enforcement centered on Lucio as the main suspect considering that they thought she was most often on your own with the baby. She and her other little ones told police that the toddler experienced fallen down the stairs at their condominium a couple of days earlier. At very first, Mariah appeared good, Lucio reported, but over time she turned lethargic and would not take in.
For several hours through a late-evening interrogation on the working day her child died, Lucio consistently insisted that she did not hurt Mariah or any of her 12 young children. But immediately after about 3 several hours of law enforcement accusations, Lucio admitted, when prompted by police, to spanking and biting Mariah. She said she guessed she spanked Mariah out of annoyance, a phrase law enforcement frequently suggested to her, even though she ongoing to deny any involvement in a head damage.
“What do you want me to say? I’m responsible for it,” Lucio stated when a Texas Ranger pushed her on the obvious chunk mark on Mariah’s back.
The admissions to boy or girl abuse, which Lucio has because recanted, were the key proof presented at trial, where by jurors located she was responsible of money murder and deserving of a demise sentence. Lucio’s advocates have since condemned the trial judge for not letting the jury hear important testimony from mental health gurus that could have stated why Lucio, a longtime sufferer of sexual abuse and domestic violence, would falsely confess.
Texas’ optimum prison court docket despatched Lucio’s situation again to her trial court docket to weigh various issues. Lucio’s hottest attraction argued bogus proof from the point out — largely that jurors read a Texas Ranger testify he could explain to by Lucio’s demeanor in her interrogation that she was responsible, and the clinical examiner’s definitive conclusions that Mariah’s accidents were being from youngster abuse — swayed the jury to wrongly convict Lucio. Her lawyers also argue new scientific evidence has debunked statements created at demo that definitively established the marks on Mariah’s again were from a bite. They reported science also now displays Lucio would be quite most likely to falsely confess.
At last, the enchantment argued the prosecution hid perhaps helpful evidence, like interviews of Lucio’s more mature little ones after Mariah’s dying that corroborated Lucio’s statement that Mariah fell down the stairs.
“It would have shocked the public’s conscience for Melissa to be place to demise dependent on wrong and incomplete clinical proof for a crime that by no means even took place,” Vanessa Potkin, Lucio’s lawyer with The Innocence Project, said in a assertion soon after Monday’s ruling.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz, who was not in business when Lucio was convicted, stated Monday he welcomed “the opportunity to prosecute this situation in the courtroom: the place witnesses testify underneath oath, wherever witnesses might be cross-examined, the place proof is ruled by the policies of proof and legal course of action, and exactly where the courtroom procedures pursuant to the rule of law. That is our criminal jurisprudence program, and it is working.”
Earlier in the day, Lucio’s attorneys pointed out they have been continuing their prior attempts to have Saenz taken off the scenario, as a single of his assistant district attorneys was the direct protection legal professional for Lucio at trial. It will likely be months or decades just before the demo court decides if the new proof introduced by Lucio’s attorneys should warrant her new trial. If so, that recommendation would go yet again to the Courtroom of Felony Appeals to possibly settle for or reject.
In spite of the large-ranging considerations with Lucio’s law enforcement interrogation and demo, appellate courts have beforehand upheld her conviction and sentence, even nevertheless a the greater part of judges on a conservative court docket discovered the case troublesome. Just after Monday’s ruling, Lucio’s oldest son’s voice cracked with emotion as he told a reporter on the cellular phone that he couldn’t chat since he was about to be with his mom in the prison. Lucio’s legal professionals reported the spouse and children was deeply relieved. Her youngsters had also questioned the parole board to spare her daily life.
“We know that Melissa’s small children — Mariah’s brothers and sisters — and Mariah’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are all relieved and grateful that Melissa’s lifestyle will not be taken by the Point out of Texas,” Lucio’s attorney Tivon Schardl stated in a statement. “And we consider the court honored Mariah’s memory simply because Melissa is harmless.”