Melissa Lucio: Texas lawmakers meet and pray with a woman on death row and promise to save her life

A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers visited Melissa Lucio on death row to discuss her execution, as she doubted she had fatally beaten her two-year-old daughter.

State Representatives Jeff Leach, a Republican, and Joe Moody, a Democrat, led the group Wednesday to the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where the state houses women on death row. Lucio faces execution on April 27.

“We are blessed to have the opportunity to meet Melissa, to pray with her, to spend time with her, and we are more determined and determined than ever to fight to save her life over the next three weeks,” Mr Leach told The Associated Press in an interview after the meeting.

Lucio was convicted of capital murder in the death of her daughter Mariah in 2007. Prosecutors say Mariah was the victim of child abuse and there is no evidence to acquit Lucio of her daughter’s death.

But Lucio’s attorneys say the jury never heard any forensic evidence to explain Mariah’s various injuries were actually caused by a fall days before her death. They also say that Lucio was not allowed to produce any evidence questioning the validity of her confession, which they claim was not actually a confession and was made under duress after hours of relentless questioning.

Among those who have doubts about Lucio’s guilt is a bipartisan group of 83 members of Texas House led by Mr. Leach and Mr. Moody. They sent a letter to the state Parolees and Parole Board and Governor Greg Abbott last month urging them to grant a stay of execution or commute their sentence.

A spokesman for Mr Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to an e-mail from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Mr Leach said he and six other lawmakers toured the jail for about two hours before meeting privately with Lucio for about 40 minutes and even prayed with her.

Lawmakers encouraged Lucio and spoke to her about their efforts to stop her execution, Mr Leach said.

“It was just a sweet, sweet time together, very powerful,” he added.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Moody tweeted: “She prayed with us and hugged us; today could be the last real human contact she has before the state kills her.”

Several jurors from her trial are joining efforts to stop Lucio’s execution, who are now doubting the conviction and reality star Kim Kardashian, who leaked a letter from Lucio’s children to Gov. Abbott on Wednesday.

“It is so heartbreaking to read this letter from Melissa Lucio’s children asking the state not to kill their mother. There are so many unresolved questions surrounding this case and the evidence used to convict her,” she tweeted.

Some of the most compelling information on the case came in an op-ed published in Sunday The Houston Chroniclein which juror Johnny Galvan Jr. said he believed the jury did not have all the information needed to make a correct decision and now feels “deep regret” for sentenced Lucio to death.

“The idea that my decision to take the life of another person was not based on full and accurate information in a fair trial is appalling. There are so many issues in this case that I believe she must not be executed,” Mr Galvan wrote.

The appeals to save Lucio have been going on for several years.

In 2019, a three-judge panel of the US Fifth Circuit reversed Lucio’s conviction, ruling that she was deprived of “her constitutional right to a meaningful defense.”

However, the full court in 2021 said the conviction must be upheld on procedural grounds.

Lucio’s lawyers had asked the Court of Appeal to overturn his decision, but the request was denied last week.

However, in a footnote to the brief ruling, 5th Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham called Lucio’s case “a systemic failure that creates a train of injustice that only the hand of the governor can stem.”

Lucio, 53, would be the first Latina to be executed by Texas and the first woman since 2014.

Only 17 women have been executed in the United States since the Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1977. The last execution of a woman was in January 2021.

With reports from the Associated Press

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