Texas death row inmate Melissa Lucio will not face the electric chair as she was supposed to this week. The child killer landed an 11th-hour stay of execution from a state appellate court on Monday, Apr. 25, her lawyers said.
Lucio — an accused child-killer whose case has garnered national attention and bipartisan support from Texas lawmakers for another look — dodged being put to death Apr. 27 thanks to the ruling by a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that kicked her conviction back for further review, according to her lawyers at the Innocence Project.
The 138th Judicial District Court of Cameron Country — where the mother of 14 was convicted in the 2007 death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah — will now consider reported new evidence in the case, her camp said.
“I thank God for my life. I have always trusted in Him,” Lucio said in a statement. “I am 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’s lawyers, at her new court hearing, are expected to present what they say is evidence that her confession was coerced.
Mariah’s official cause of death was blunt force trauma. Lucio claims the girl fell down the stairs and died as a result of complications from those injuries over two days in which she did not seek medical care for her toddler.
Lucio was questioned by cops after investigators discovered a bite mark along with scratches and bruises on the girl’s body.
During a police interrogation, Lucio admitted to biting and spanking Mariah. Cameron County prosecutors used that statement to secure a conviction even though the mom insisted the death was an accident.
“We can sit here and debate whether Ms. Lucio should have taken [Mariah] to the hospital sooner when she started to decline in health, but she was not abused,” one of Lucio’s lawyers, Vanessa Potkin, said.
The last-minute stay of execution for Lucio came as the result of a 242-page application for a writ of habeas corpus filed on her behalf by Lawyers for the Innocence Project, asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to delay Lucio’s execution and look at new evidence.
If Lucio is executed, she would be the first Hispanic woman to be put to death by the State of Texas.