Prosecutors at the trial argued that Lucio, now 53, was an abusive mother who caused the injuries that led to the death of her daughter Mariah. Lucio’s lawyers say those injuries were actually the result of a fall from the stairs outside the family’s apartment.
On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution, indefinitely delaying Lucio’s execution and ordering her court to review several claims for damages her team had highlighted, including her claim that she is innocent.
Lucio learned of the residency from Texas State Representative Jeff Leach, who — along with a bipartisan vote from the state legislature — has defended her case and called for leniency or a new trial.
Lucio sobbed Monday upon hearing the news that she would not be put to death on Wednesday, according to an audio recording obtained by DailyExpertNews.
“I am grateful that the Court has given me the opportunity to live and to prove my innocence,” Lucio said in a statement. “Mariah is in my heart today and always.”
Separately, on Monday, all eyes had been on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which was expected to vote on a leniency recommendation in Lucio’s case. But minutes before the board’s decision was expected, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled.
The board then announced that it would not vote at that time.
What happens now
The appeals court order returns Lucio’s case to her court in the 138th Judicial District in Cameron County, along the border with Mexico at the southernmost tip of Texas.
The appeals court reversed or reversed a number of claims Lucio had filed in a petition for a habeas corpus writ — requiring an officer to show a valid reason for a person’s detention — and ordered the court to order a “earnings” to perform. rating.”
After reviewing her claims and the evidence, the court would make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which would ultimately decide whether Lucio will face a new trial.
It is not clear how long the process may take. “We definitely want Melissa to get her hearing as soon as possible,” Schardl said. “We can’t say exactly how long, but we certainly don’t want her to spend a day longer in jail than is absolutely necessary.”
As the trial progresses, she will remain on death row, her legal team said.
The claims that the court will assess
Lucio and her team had filed nine claims with the appeals court, four of which were remanded to the court. Lucio’s other claims did not meet the legal requirements, the Court of Appeal ruled, and will not be assessed.
Of the four:
† The first claim states that no juror would have convicted Lucio if the prosecutors had not provided false, misleading and scientifically invalid expert testimony. So did the coroner who, according to Lucio’s request, performed Mariah’s autopsy, “ignoring indications that Mariah’s fatal condition had other causes,” and testifying that the injuries could only have been caused by abuse without falling down the stairs for two days. to investigate earlier.
† The second claim says new scientific evidence would prevent Lucio’s conviction. One of their arguments is that Lucio was particularly prone to making a false confession as a lifelong survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
† The third claim from Lucio’s lawyers says that scientific evidence shows that Mariah was not murdered. As a result, they argue that her execution would, in part, violate the constitutional guarantees of the right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
† The fourth claim alleges that the state withheld evidence favorable to its defense, thereby violating its right to a fair trial. Among the withheld evidence, her lawyers say, there is evidence that police and prosecutors knew that other family members were aware of Mariah’s fall from the stairs and that no one had described the abuse Mariah allegedly suffered.
DailyExpertNews has reached out to prosecutors for comment.
She can still be executed
However, the ruling delays Lucio’s execution “indefinitely,” Potkin said, as Lucio gets her first chance to present new evidence of her innocence claim in court.
“The end result could be she could face a new trial,” Potkin said, “and we’re confident…if Melissa were tried again today, she would be acquitted.”