Point out Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, (2nd-R) and other members of the Texas Household Felony Justice Reform Caucus question point out officials to halt the execution of Melissa Lucio at the Texas Capitol on Thursday. File Image by Sergio Flores/The Texas Tribune
March 24 (UPI) — Far more than 50 percent the users of the Texas House of Associates are inquiring the state’s parole board to halt future month’s prepared execution of Melissa Lucio, who would usually grow to be the initial Latina set to dying by Texas.
Greatly circulated doubts of Lucio’s guilt in the dying of her 2-yr-previous daughter, as well as a phone for mercy from her other kids, spurred a bipartisan team of nearly 90 lawmakers to plead with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbott to either modify Lucio’s dying sentence to a person of daily life in jail or halt her execution for a few months.
“When we do every little thing that we can to assure that an innocent Texan is not place to death by the condition, or even a probably harmless Texan is not put to demise by the point out … we are strengthening our felony justice method,” condition Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican who co-chairs the Home Felony Justice Reform Caucus, mentioned at a push meeting in the Texas Capitol on Thursday.
Lucio, 53, has been imprisoned due to the fact her daughter, Mariah, died in February 2007. The spouse and children termed 911 just after the toddler was found unresponsive at their Harlingen apartment. Many bruises, scratches and what seemed to be a bite mark on her system led police investigators to consider the child experienced been killed. Mariah’s dying was later on identified to be brought about by a blunt-force head injuries.
Lucio was the principal suspect, as law enforcement claimed she was most typically by itself with the baby. Lucio explained to police repeatedly for the duration of a late-evening interrogation that she did not harm her little one. Mariah had fallen down the stairs at their condominium a pair of days previously, she and other young children informed police. Lucio lived with her husband and 9 of her small children at the time. Mariah was Lucio’s twelfth and youngest child.
Following about 3 hours of interrogation, Lucio admitted, when prompted by police, to spanking and biting Mariah. She even now denied any involvement in a head personal injury.
“What do you want me to say? I am liable for it,” Lucio stated when a Texas Ranger pushed her on the evident bite mark on Mariah’s back again.
Lucio’s statements admitting to spanking and biting her youngster had been the crux of the state’s situation in opposition to her. However she didn’t admit to killing her little one or resulting in a fatal harm, her admissions of baby abuse led prosecutors, and a Cameron County jury, to connect her to the kid’s death and uncover her deserving of the death penalty.
The admissions Lucio built throughout more than 5 several hours of interrogation on the working day her daughter died have been shrouded in question from the get started. At demo, the decide did not make it possible for a psychologist to testify on why Lucio may well acknowledge to factors she did not do, such as her record of sexual abuse as a little one and domestic violence as an grownup.
In accordance to the Nationwide Registry of Exonerations, about 12% of convictions found to be wrongful stem at the very least in part from bogus confessions. State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, pointed to the prevalence of bogus confessions and interrogation procedures that prompt them at the legal justice reform caucus press meeting Thursday.
“The procedures applied to secure her statement … have been shown to dress in down suspects to bogus confessions,” Thompson reported.
Lucio’s legal protection group, which now incorporates the Innocence Challenge, has requested numerous courts to halt the execution, pointing in aspect to new pathology opinions that assist the concept that Mariah died from a drop down the stairs. Lucio’s small children, siblings and mom have sought general public focus in and outside of the Rio Grande Valley to increase consciousness of their mother’s claim of innocence. The Home lawmakers have centered their concentration on the parole board.
“As policymakers, we have an obligation to stand up and communicate out, specially individuals of us who contemplate ourselves to be professional-daily life, pro-girls and professional-law and buy,” mentioned state Rep. Lacey Hull, a freshman Republican from Houston. “As a lot as we all want justice for Mariah, the details only do not help any summary that Ms. Lucio committed capital murder and is deserving of the top punishment.”
About a month prior to an execution, the parole board opinions petitions from condemned prisoners seeking clemency. Board members can advise possibly a adjust in sentence to existence in prison or a delay in the execution. If the board endorses reduction, the governor can settle for or reject it. If the board does not advise reduction, the governor can at most delay an execution by 30 days.
Although the board does not weigh on lawful problems, the Home lawmakers pushed it to look at Lucio’s achievable innocence, as nicely as pleas from her youngsters to permit her reside and her in-prison conversion and determination to Catholicism. Thompson pointed out the situation of Henry Lee Lucas, a convicted serial killer whose demise sentence previous Gov. George W. Bush commuted to lifestyle in jail in 1998 in excess of doubts about Lucas’ guilt in the murder that landed him on death row.
Lucio’s scenario is the second time the Household Felony Justice Reform Caucus, fashioned by condition Rep. Joe Moody and Leach in 2019, has sought to intervene in an future execution. That 12 months, 26 lawmakers requested the parole board to spare the everyday living of Rodney Reed, whose guilt is also widely doubted in a 1996 Bastrop murder. The board suggested that Abbott hold off the execution by 120 days, but Reed’s execution was rather halted by the Texas Courtroom of Prison Appeals on legal problems.
Lucio has garnered assistance from more than a few moments as many of the chamber’s 150 customers than Reed.
By 10 a.m. Thursday, 87 lawmakers had signed on to the caucus’ letter to the parole board, which they prepared to deliver at 5 p.m. with extra members incorporating their names. Moody said he was very pleased that the caucus — born out of disappointment with the Legislature’s failure to pass legal justice reforms — has encouraged a groundswell of aid for Lucio.
“It is simple to dismiss people like Melissa Lucio. In point, the program is established up to make us ignore her and take care of her as much less than human,” the El Paso Democrat mentioned. “I hope this is a second that we are turning the tide in Texas for a fairer system, for a more just technique.”
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