Woman’s impending execution sparks rare bipartisan agreement, rallies in her support

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People across the country rallied this weekend in support of Texas death row inmate Melissa Lucio, who is set to be executed this week.

“We are hopeful. I spoke to Melissa’s son this morning and they are visiting her in Gatesville,” supporter Carmen Ayala said, according to Fox 4. “She’s hopeful too, because of all the attention this has gotten. We hope it’s enough to put a stop on the 27th.”

Lucio was convicted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Mariah in South Texas in 2007. An autopsy ruled the young girl died due to blunt force trauma to the head.

Death row inmate Melissa Lucio (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
(Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Lucio’s supporters and lawyers say she is the victim of a coerced confession, which came after hours of interrogation by police with Lucio initially denying she killed her daughter more than 100 times, Fox 4 reported. Her lawyers added that forensic evidence allegedly showing Mariah’s injuries were from her falling down stairs was never heard in court. Five jurors in the case have also expressed doubt in the verdict.

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The case has also brought a rare instance of Democrat and Republican lawmakers agreeing that she should not be executed.

“It will be a historic, irreversible blunder on the part of the State of Texas if we go forward with this,” Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach said, according to the New York Times. “I’ve never seen a more troubling case than the case of Melissa Lucio.”

Melissa Lucio and state Rep. Jeff Leach. (Jeff Leach)

Melissa Lucio and state Rep. Jeff Leach. (Jeff Leach)
(Jeff Leach )

State lawmakers pressed Democratic Cameron County district attorney Luis V. Saenz earlier this month at a hearing to withdraw the execution warrant. He declined to intervene in the matter.

Lucio worked as a part-time home health aide and struggled with drug abuse. Her family was homeless at one point and Child Protective Services previously stepped in and took some of her other children away due to neglect. Lucio’s lawyers, however, say she has no documented history of abusing her children, the New York Times reported.

“We are on the verge of sending a woman to an execution based on false and misleading medical evidence,” Vanessa Potkin, Director of Special Litigation at the Innocence Project, said according to the New York Post.

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Sixteen rallies were held across the country on Saturday to raise awareness about her execution date in a bid to stop it. A handful of the rallies were held in Texas, including in Houston, as well as in Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Greensboro, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Supporters also gathered on a bridge over I-30 in Dallas with a sign reading, “Free Melissa Lucio.”

“We hope drivers see this sign and they are like, ‘Who is Melissa Lucio?’” Ayala told Fox 4.

Supporters of Melissa Lucio rallying against her planned execution (Fox 4)

Supporters of Melissa Lucio rallying against her planned execution (Fox 4)
(FOX 4)

Signatures were collected at the rallies to send to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday to stop the execution.

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Kim Kardashian and Amanda Knox – who gained international attention after she was wrongly convicted of killing her roommate in Italy in 2007 – are among high-profile voices supporting Lucio.

Lucio would be the first Latina executed in Texas and the first woman to be executed in Texas since 2014.

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A request for clemency is being considered by the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. Abbott could stop the execution if a majority of the board votes for clemency.

 

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