Brownsville, TX – A bipartisan group of 20 Texas Senators and an even larger group of House members have signed onto letters in support of canceling the execution of Melissa Lucio. The execution is scheduled for April 27, 2022.
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) issued the following statement regarding the bipartisan support received for Melissa Lucio:
“I am proud to announce that 19 of my Senate colleagues joined me in writing to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that the Board recommend to Gov. Abbott that he cancel Melissa Lucio’s upcoming execution. Without a recommendation from the Board to the contrary, the State of Texas will execute Ms. Lucio on April 27, making her the first Latina in the United States to be executed since the resumption of the death penalty in the 1970s.
“Among the constitutional deficiencies and improprieties Ms. Lucio faced during her trial, new evidence has surfaced that calls Ms. Lucio’s conviction into question. Accordingly, she deserves a reprieve from execution until her defense team can gather the new evidence needed to prove her innocence.
“The death penalty is the ultimate punishment in Texas, and our state has an absolute obligation to ensure that it never executes an innocent person. I will continue to pray for everyone involved in this tragedy and will continue to urge our leaders to refrain from making a mistake it cannot undo.”
April 13 Senator Letter:
We, as members of the Texas Senate, urge you to recommend that Governor Abbott cancel Melissa Lucio’s execution by either commuting her sentence or granting her a reprieve. Ms. Lucio currently is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on April 27, 2022. New evidence that has emerged since Ms. Lucio’s trial points to the fact that her daughter, Mariah, died after a tragic accident and not by her mother’s hands. A commutation or a reprieve would give her lawyers the time they need to develop all the evidence that could prove Ms. Lucio’s innocence. While we understand the gravity of the issue before you and the important role that the Board of Pardons and Paroles plays in our criminal justice system, we also believe this is an opportunity to prevent a miscarriage of justice that would undermine public trust in our legal system.
The death penalty is the ultimate punishment in Texas, and our state has an absolute obligation to ensure that it never executes an innocent person. With eyewitness accounts of Mariah’s accidental fall, and no eyewitness accounts that point to murder, Ms. Lucio’s case is one that gives even proponents of the death penalty pause. Doctors who recently reviewed the autopsy—including a leading specialist from The University of Texas Medical Branch—concluded that the jury heard false testimony about whether Mariah was abused.
While the many doubts in this case alone suffice to provide the grounds to grant Ms. Lucio relief, other factors apply as well. Ms. Lucio experienced ineffective assistance from counsel in various aspects of her trial and appeal and claims of prosecutorial misconduct and Brady1 violations currently are being investigated.
What’s more, the dramatic sentencing disparity between Ms. Lucio and her husband, who also was responsible for Mariah’s care, casts doubt on the fairness and equity of the proceedings against her. Unlike Ms. Lucio, a survivor of domestic abuse with no prior history of violence, her husband had a history of assaultive behavior, but is now a free man after serving a four-year sentence for child endangerment.
Lastly, Ms. Lucio is a critical source of support for her family and those around her. She is a practicing Catholic, who attends Mass, formed a Bible study group on death row, and brought other inmates to Christ.
Accordingly, we submit that Ms. Lucio’s execution will not achieve justice for Mariah. Instead, it will cause more suffering for her siblings, grandmother, father, aunts, and uncles, who lost Mariah 14 years ago and who are desperate not to lose another family member. A commutation, or at a minimum, a reprieve, would prevent further harm to a family that has experienced tremendous hardship already.
We thank you for your thoughtful consideration and your leadership on this issue.
March 25 House Letter
We, the undersigned members of the Texas House of Representatives, write to urge you to
cancel Melissa Lucio’s execution, currently scheduled for April 27, 2022, by either commuting her sentence or granting her a reprieve.
We appreciate how seriously you take your unique responsibility by approaching every execution with the utmost care and caution so that Texas never executes someone for a crime they did not commit. That is why we are confident that you will come to the same conclusion we have: that the State of Texas cannot, in good faith, execute Ms. Lucio next month.
We ask that you pay particular attention to the new scientific evidence that has emerged since the time of Ms. Lucio’s trial showing that her daughter, Mariah, died after a tragic accident rather than an intentional capital murder. In other words, Ms. Lucio was sentenced for a murder that, simply put, did not take place, and no eyewitness account exists saying otherwise. Ms. Lucio’s case is one that gives even the strongest death penalty proponents among us pause. Of course, we understand that some of these issues must be litigated, and a commutation or reprieve would give Ms. Lucio’s lawyers the time they need to further develop evidence of Melissa’s innocence. We should not rush something that cannot be undone.
Beyond those doubts, the dramatic sentencing disparity between Ms. Lucio and her husband, who was also responsible for Mariah’s care, is inescapable. Unlike Ms. Lucio, who had no documented history of violence towards her children, her husband had a history of assaultive behavior but is now a free man after serving a four-year sentence for child endangerment. You now have a unique and powerful opportunity to show Texas women that our system of justice is evenhanded.
Ms. Lucio has strong sources of support in her family and the people around her. She also has her faith as a practicing Catholic who regularly attends mass. She has even formed and led a Bible study group on death row and brought other inmates to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Executing her will not achieve justice for Mariah. Instead, it will cause more suffering for Mariah’s siblings, her grandmother, her father, and her aunts and uncles, who all lost Mariah 14 years ago and are desperate not to lose her mother. A commutation or, at a minimum, a reprieve, would prevent further harm to a family that has already experienced tremendous loss.
We have been encouraged by the thoughtful decisions you have made in recent years in cases like Bobby Moore and Thomas Whitaker, which presented similar issues of evidentiary doubt, disparate sentences, and supportive families outside. While we understand the gravity of the issue before you, we also believe Ms. Lucio’s case presents the same opportunity to prevent a miscarriage of justice and strengthen public trust in our legal system.