Friday, Aug. 12, 2022|
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HOUSTON — A Texas appeals court on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio amid growing doubts about whether she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter in a case that has garnered the support of lawmakers, celebrities and even some jurors who sentenced her to death.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a request by Lucio’s lawyers for a stay of execution so a lower court can review her claims that new evidence would exonerate her.
Lucio had been set for lethal injection Wednesday for the 2007 death of her daughter Mariah in Harlingen, a city of about 75,000 in Texas’ southern tip.
Prosecutors have maintained that the girl was the victim of abuse and noted that her body was covered in bruises. Lucio’s lawyers say Mariah died from injuries she sustained in a fall down a steep staircase several days before she died.
“I am grateful the court has given me the chance to live and prove my innocence,” Lucio said in a statement provided by her lawyers. “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.”
Lucio’s mother, Esperanza Treviño, tearfully thanked all of her daughter’s supporters, saying, “Thank God for the miracle.”
Lucio was first told her execution had been delayed in a phone call with state Rep. Jeff Leach, a Republican who has helped lead a bipartisan effort to halt her execution, said Vanessa Potkin, one of Lucio’s attorneys who is with the Innocence Project.
“She sobbed. She was just overwhelmed,” said Potkin.
In a statement, Leach said he was grateful the appeals court had “pushed the pause button on her execution, saving the state of Texas from the irreversible blunder of potentially killing an innocent citizen.”
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