Melissa Lucio was convicted of capital murder for the death of her daughter, Mariah. Although overwhelming evidence shows that the child’s death was not a crime, but the result of a tragic fall down the stairs, an aggressive District Attorney during an election campaign targeted Melissa to show he was tough on crime. That same DA is now serving a long federal prison sentence for corruption.
In 2008, Melissa became the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texas. She is now scheduled to be killed on April 27, 2022.
Many of us have worked to abolish the death penalty knowing that the capital punishment system is filled with errors and does not prevent violent crimes.
The death penalty also is disproportionately imposed on people of color and the poor.
Recognizing the system’s unfairness, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and many others have called for the elimination of the horrific practice. Dolores Huerta says: #FreeMelissaLucio!
Please go to the link below to view Dolores Huerta’s endorsement.
Nearly 200 people have been exonerated from death rows in America since 1976. Some just days before they were to be executed. We also know that innocent individuals have been executed, including in Texas – the recent documentary The Phantom covers one such case.
Our leaders are smart and should be able to find ways to reduce crime and keep our society safer without resorting to killing to show that killing is wrong.
Despite acknowledging evidence of Melissa’s innocence, the courts have thus far refused to spare her. While potential legal avenues remain, it may come down to a decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Greg Abbott who will decide Melissa’s fate. Those who wish to support Melissa’s request for clemency can do so by signing a petition.
Before signing, we urge supporters to visit www.FreeMelissaLucio.org and watch The State of Texas vs. Melissa, an award-winning 2020 documentary by Sabrina Van Tassel, that highlights many of the concerning facts around Lucio’s case, including the following:
- Evidence that Mariah died from head trauma caused by falling down a flight of stairs – a fall that was witnessed by Melissa’s other children.
- Lucio’s original lawyer did not call any of her children as witnesses, including those who saw Mariah fall down the stairs.
- Right after the trial, Melissa’s lawyer became a Cameron County prosecutor, and he remains employed there today.
- Raw footage shows the psychologically coercive interrogation, which lasted a little over 5 hours on the night of Mariah’s death.
- Dr. John Pinkerman, a psychologist, and Norma Villanueva, a mitigation specialist, hoped to testify that Melissa was susceptible to making a false confession during a coercive investigation because of her extensive history of being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. They were both barred by the trial court from testifying during the liability phase of Melissa’s trial.
- Armando Villalobos, the district attorney who prosecuted Lucio’s case, was convicted of bribery and extortion in 2014 for accepting over $100,000 in exchange for favorable outcomes in criminal trials. He is now serving a 13-year sentence in prison. He was known to bribe judges and lawyers and was suspected of using Melissa’s case to be re-elected.
There are so many unanswered questions regarding Melissa’s conviction. At a minimum, her death sentence should be commuted.
To join the effort to save Melissa’s life or if you need more information, please contact email@example.com