AUSTIN, Texas — A bipartisan group of lawmakers held a press conference at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to discuss their support of clemency or a reprieve for Melissa Lucio.
Lucio was convicted of killing her daughter, Mariah Alvarez, 15 years ago in Harlingen, Texas. She is scheduled to be executed on April 27.
“We’re not saying Miss Lucio is innocent, we’re not saying she’s guilty, we’re saying for the board to provide her some clemency, so we can get her into a trial,” said State Rep James White.
He said, among other problems, Lucio didn’t have adequate counsel.
“In cases like this where you have a child death, there are experts that come in and do research and analysis, her attorneys decided to go to trial without allowing those experts to complete their work,” said White.
Lawmakers are saying this would add more pain to Lucio’s family, after already suffering the death of Mariah 15 years ago.
“Justice is not suddenly restored because another person dies. Executing Melissa will not bring peace to her surviving children. It will only bring more pain and suffering,” said State Rep Joe Moody.
In February, Lucio's family members gathered in Austin to say that she is innocent and should be released from prison. Lucio's sister, Sonya Valencia Alvarez, said Lucio has spent the last 15 years grieving her daughter and Lucio's son, John Vincent Lucio, said his sister died by accident when she fell down a set of stairs.
"She had an accident. She did fall down. If you watch the documentary, you can see the stairs that she fell on," John Vincent Lucio.
Melissa Lucio's case has gained national attention. In 2020, Hulu produced the mentioned documentary, “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” which detailed how she could be innocent. Earlier this month, the popular HBO show "Last Week Tonight" discussed her case in an episode on wrongful convictions.
The speakers at Thursday's press conference included Reps. Jeff Leach (R-Allen) and Joe Moody (D-El Paso), who co-chair the Texas House Criminal Justice Reform Caucus and who were recently appointed as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the Interim Study Committee on Criminal Justice Reform. They will be joined by Reps. James White (R-Hillister), Lacey Hull (R-Houston), Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), and Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas).
They said that the evidence against Lucio is troubling and that they at least want a stay of execution.
The lawmakers are among dozens of Texas legislators who have signed a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking it to act in Melissa Lucio's case. The letter cites significant doubts about "Ms. Lucio’s guilt, her disparate treatment compared to her husband and co-defendant, who received a four-year sentence, and the impact her execution will have on her supportive family and faith community."
According to the release, Melissa Lucio is the first Latina sent to death row in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, there are nearly 200 inmates on death row in Texas.
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