The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have officially halted the execution of Melissa Lucio, whose death sentence drew international outcry as people began to doubt her role in her 2-year-old daughter’s death.
The court sent Lucio’s case back to the Cameron County Court where she was originally tried. It was there that her application for clemency before the Court of Criminal Appeals was granted and her execution date expunged.
In a phone call, Lucio can be heard to be overcome with emotion when told the news regarding her granted a stay.
“Are you serious?” she asked, laughing through tears. “That is wonderful. … Oh thank you, God.”
In a statement provided by her attorneys, Lucio thanked those who spoke out against her execution and that she was she was “grateful the court has given me the chance to live and prove my innocence. 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.”
Lucio was previously convicted in 2008 for the killing of her 2-year-old daughter. A Texas jury sentenced the mother to death row, where she has remained for the last 14 years.
As new details emerged, more than half of the members of the Texas House and Senate had called for her execution to be halted. Coercion and corruption surrounded her case and a coalition of support had surrounded Lucio’s case for clemency.
The new evidence was brought to light by the defense, showing that Lucio’s daughter’s injuries were caused by a fall down a staircase. They also claim Lucio may have been coerced by law enforcement into confessing to the murder on the day of her daughter’s death. Since the conviction, five of the 12 jurors have publicly stated if they had known about the new evidence, they would not have sentenced her to death.
Lucio’s attorneys say her murder conviction was based on an unreliable and coerced confession that was the result of questioning surrounding her long history of domestic abuse. Her lawyers also argued that unscientific and false evidence misled jurors into believing that her 2-year-old‘s injuries could have only been caused by physical abuse and not by medical complications from a fall.
“I knew that what I was accused of doing was not true. My children have always been my world and although my choices in life were not good I would have never hurt any of my children in such a way,” Lucio wrote.