On Monday (April 25), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a temporary stay of execution for Melissa Elizabeth Lucio, two days before she would have become the first Latine woman ever executed by the State of Texas.
Lucio was sentenced to death in 2008 for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. Now, the 138th Judicial District Court of Cameron Country will consider new evidence of her innocence.
“I thank God for my life,” Lucio said in a statement Monday. “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.”
Question about Lucio’s guilt had always been part of her narrative since she was arrested for her daughter’s death in 2007. This included allegations that the state presented false testimony during Lucio’s trial and hid evidence from her lawyers. Lucio’s confession to the murder was also suspected as having been coerced by police after hours of interrogation.
“The Court of Criminal Appeals did the right thing by stopping Melissa’s execution,” said Vanessa Potkin, director of special litigation at the Innocence Project. “It would have shocked the public’s conscience for Melissa to be put to death based on false and incomplete medical evidence for a crime that never even happened. All of the new evidence of her innocence has never before been considered by any court. The court’s stay allows us to continue fighting alongside Melissa to overturn her wrongful conviction.”
Now, a lower court will consider Lucio’s innocence by reviewing all the evidence.