April 25, 2022

Some former jurors on the impending execution of the Texas woman are also rallying to try to stop it. Nation World News

Nearly half of the jurors who sentenced a Texas woman to death for the 2007 death of one of her 14 children have called for a halt to her upcoming execution and a new trial for her.

Melissa Lucio, 52, is to be hanged Wednesday for the death of her two-year-old daughter, Maria, in Harlingen, a town of about 75,000 in the southern tip of Texas.

Her lawyers say new evidence suggests Maria’s injuries, including a blow to the head, were caused by a fall from a steep ladder, and several lawmakers and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, an advocate for criminal justice reform , and Amanda Knox – an American whose murder sentence was overturned in the death of a British student in Italy – is linked to Lucio’s cause. However, prosecutors say the girl was the victim of child abuse.

Lucio’s lawyers have filed several legal appeals to stop his execution. He also has a clemency application before the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole, which is set to consider his case on Monday. Republican Governor Greg Abbott could play a role in deciding Lucio’s fate.

What are the issues?

Lawyers for Lucio say his death sentence was based on an unreliable and coercive confession that was the result of relentless interrogation over a period of hours, during which he claimed his innocence dozens of times. They say that Lucio was not allowed to present evidence questioning the validity of his confession.

Her lawyers also argue that unscientific and false evidence misled jurors to believe that Maria’s injuries may have been caused only by physical abuse, and not by medical complications from a serious fall.

Lucio wrote in a letter, “I knew that what I was accused of doing was not true. My children have always been my world and although I did not have good choices in life, I never The child would not have been hurt that way.” For Texas lawmakers.

Some former jurors on the impending execution of the Texas woman are also rallying to try to stop it. Nation World News
Rachel Zoca of Chicago holds a sign during a vigil for Lucio at the Basilica of Our Lady of the San Juan del Valle National Shrine on Friday in San Juan, Texas. Lucio is the first woman of Hispanic descent in Texas to be sentenced to death. (Dalcia Lopez/The Monitor/Associated Press)

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Sainz, whose office prosecuted the case, has said he disagrees with Lucio’s attorneys’ claims that new evidence will acquit him. Prosecutors say Lucio had a history of drug abuse and lost custody of some of his 14 children several times.

During the sometimes-controversial Texas House committee hearings on Lucio’s case this month, Sainz initially insisted on requests to use his power to halt the execution, before later saying it would not work if the courts did not act. that he would intervene.

“I do not disagree with all the investigations into this matter. I welcome it,” Sainz said.

Armando Villalobos was the county’s district attorney when Lucio was convicted in 2008, and Lucio’s lawyers alleged that he pushed for a sentence to help with his re-election bid. In 2014, Villalobos was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for a bribery scheme related to offering a favorable prosecution decision.

Her lawyers also say that Lucio’s sentence was disproportionate to the punishment received by her husband and Maria’s father, Robert Alvarez. Lucio’s lawyers argue that he received a four-year sentence for hurting a child by default, despite being also responsible for Maria’s care.

Who is rallying on his behalf?

More than half of the members of the Texas legislature have called for his execution to be halted. A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers this month traveled to Gatesville, where the state houses female prisoners of death row, and prayed with Lucio.

“Just knowing that Ms. Lucio’s case is over is enough to make me sleepy,” Republican Representative Jeff Leach told a Dallas television station last week.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions at all and make sure we’re not potentially executing an innocent fellow Texan.”

Some former jurors on the impending execution of the Texas woman are also rallying to try to stop it. Nation World News
Republican Jeff Leach is shown in the legislature on April 12 in Austin, Texas. He is among a group of lawmakers who have visited Lucio and are demanding clemency in the case. (Jay Jenner/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

Five of the 12 jurors who sentenced Lucio and an alternate jury questioned his decision, saying he needed a new trial.

Jury Johnny Galvan expressed doubts about her conviction in an affidavit, writing, “She was not evil. She was just struggling. … If we had somehow heard the defendant defending her, then she We would have reached a different decision.”

Lucio’s cause is also supported by faith leaders such as Sister Helen Prezien, activists who have lobbied for the abolition of the death penalty for decades, and the case was shown on HBO. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,

Lucio’s family and supporters are traveling across Texas holding rallies and screenings of a 2020 documentary about his case, State of Texas vs. MelissaWhich is streamed on Hulu in the US and Superchannel in Canada.

What can cause delay or stoppage of execution

Appeals to halt Lucio’s execution are pending in state and federal courts.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is considering a request that either his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment or he be sentenced to 120 days of death by hanging.

Some former jurors on the impending execution of the Texas woman are also rallying to try to stop it. Nation World News
A decision may ultimately fall to Greg Abbott of Texas Gov., who had previously commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment in another case. (Jay Jenner/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

Any decision by the Board to reduce or relieve his sentence would require Abbott’s approval. The governor, who has granted pardon to only one death row prisoner since taking office in 2015, could also unilaterally impose a 30-day moratorium on executions. Abbott commutes the death sentence without parole to life imprisonment for Thomas (Bart) Whitaker, who was convicted of fatally shooting his mother and brother. Whitaker’s father was also shot, but he survived and led the effort to save his son’s life.

Women criminals are rarely hanged

Women accounted for only 3.6 percent of the more than 16,000 confirmed executions in the US in the 1600s, according to data from the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that opposes the death penalty.

According to statistics, since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 17 women have been executed across the country. Texas has killed more women — six — than any other state, though not since 2014. Oklahoma is next with three, and Florida has killed two.

The federal government has sentenced a woman to death since 1976. Lisa Montgomery of Kansas received a lethal injection in January 2021, when the Trump administration resumed executions in the federal system after a 17-year hiatus. The Justice Department has again put a moratorium on executions under the Biden administration.

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