As calls for clemency grows for Melissa Lucio, who is set to be executed in Texas on April 27, a group of bipartisan lawmakers planned on Wednesday to visit the death row inmate.
The lawmakers have joined several others calling to halt the execution of Lucio who has been convicted of capital murder for the 2007 death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah.
State Reps. Jeff Leach, a Republican, and Joe Moody, a Democrat, were set to spearhead the efforts and lead a group of lawmakers to the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where the state houses women on death row.
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Lucio’s lawyers have argued that the 53-year-old “falsely” admitted to killing her daughter after hours of intense police questioning. The lawyers claimed that the child died from falling down a steep staircase outside their apartment in the South Texas city of Harlingen and not from being beaten.
Lucio, who herself is a domestic violence victim, was worn down by the grief of losing her daughter and finally admitted to a crime she didn’t commit, her lawyers say.
In the 2020 documentary “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” Lucio also said that investigators kept pushing her to say she had hurt Mariah.
“I was not gonna admit to causing her death because I wasn’t responsible,” Lucio said.
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The lawmakers are not the only ones demanding clemency for Lucio, juror Johnny Galvan Jr. and reality TV star Kim Kardashian have also been pleading for her life.
On Monday, Kardashian took to Twitter to share a detailed thread about Lucio’s case.
“She has been on death row for over 14 years for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident,” Kardashian wrote in her post. “Her 2-year old daughter Mariah fell down a flight of stairs and two days later passed away while taking a nap. After she called for help, she was taken into custody by the police.”
Kardashian also requested her 72 million followers to sign a petition to urge Governor Greg Abbott to intervene.
“It’s stories like [Lucio’s] that make me speak so loud about the death penalty in general and why it should be banned when innocent people are suffering,” Kardashian tweeted.
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Meanwhile, prosecutors have said that there is no evidence that would acquit Lucio. However, her lawyers claimed that jurors never heard forensic evidence that could explain Mariah’s various injuries, which were caused by a fall days before her death.
In an op-ed published Sunday in the Houston Chronicle, juror Galvan Jr. said he now feels “deep regret” for sentencing Lucio to death.
“The idea that my decision to take another person’s life was not based on complete and accurate information in a fair trial is horrifying. There are so many problems in this case that I believe she must not be executed,” Galvan wrote.
Eighty-three Texas House members signed a letter last month that was sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and to Abbott saying that Lucio’s execution would be “a miscarriage of justice.”
While all eyes are on Abbott, there has been only one instance when the governor overturned someone’s execution order. Abbott can grant clemency if a majority of the paroles board recommends it.
If denied clemency, the 53-year-old will be the first Latina executed by Texas and the first woman since 2014.