Melissa Lucio’s execution was set to take place on Wednesday, but an appeals court in Texas postponed it due to questions about her innocence and issues about the trial that led to her conviction.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution on Monday and remanded the case to a lower court for further consideration, a decision praised by her attorneys, criminal justice advocates, and Lucio herself.
In a statement released by her legal team, she stated, “I am grateful the Court has given me the chance to live and establish my innocence.”
Lucio was condemned to death 14 years ago for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah.
Lucio and her family, on the other hand, have long maintained her innocence. According to Mariah’s counsel, she was injured in a fall shortly before her death. Supporters claim that police pressured Lucio into making a false confession, leaving him unable to offer a thorough defence at trial.
Lucio added in her statement, “Mariah is in my heart today and always.” “I am grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with my children and grandchildren as a mother and grandmother.”
Police began questioning Lucio, who was pregnant with twins at the time, two hours after Mariah died.
Lucio claimed her innocence more than 100 times throughout the five-hour interrogation, until she finally confessed, “I guess I did it,” when questioned if she was to blame for any of her daughter’s injuries.
Her defence team claims that the difficulties with Lucio’s prosecution persisted at trial, claiming that the jury was mislead by “unscientific fake” evidence that resulted to a guilty judgement.
“Melissa has the right to a new and fair trial. Texas residents are entitled to a new and fair trial “One of Lucio’s attorneys, Tivon Schardl, is a federal public defender.
“Texans should be grateful and gratified that the Court of Criminal Appeals has allowed Melissa’s legal team to present new evidence of her innocence to the Cameron County district court,” Schardl said.
Both Republican and Democratic Texas politicians have backed Lucio’s request for a new trial, with a number of them signing a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles urging them to give her clemency.