Stop the Execution of Melissa Lucio in Texas

Melissa Lucio with her son John Lucio. (Image: Courtesy of the Lucio family)

Melissa faces execution on April 27 for a crime that never occurred.

Melissa Lucio is facing execution on April 27, 2022, in Texas for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah — a crime that never occurred. Mariah died two days after accidentally falling down a steep flight of stairs and Melissa has maintained her innocence on death row for more than 14 years.

La historia de Melissa en Español

Nearly one in three exonerated women were wrongly convicted of harming children or other loved ones in their care and nearly 70% were wrongfully convicted of crimes that never took place at all — events that were accidents, deaths by suicide, and fabricated — according to data from the National Registry of Exonerations

Help prevent an irreversible injustice. Add your name to stop Texas from killing Melissa.

Melissa’s story

Born in Lubbock, Texas to a Catholic, Mexican-American family living below the poverty line, Melissa’s earliest memories are of her mother struggling to escape the blows of her partner. Older relatives began to sexually assault and abuse Melissa from the time she was 6 years old.

As a child, she was repeatedly sexually abused, and became a child bride at the age of 16 with the hopes of escaping her abusive environment. Unfortunately, her life did not get easier. At the time of Mariah’s accident, Melissa had 12 children between the ages of 2 and 15 and was pregnant with twins she would ultimately give birth to in prison and have to give up for adoption. She struggled at times to provide for her family, but was a caring mother, who did her best given her incredibly difficult circumstance. 

No evidence of abuse

The State of Texas presented no physical evidence establishing that Melissa ever abused Mariah or any of her children. In fact, thousands of pages of Child Protective Services records show that Melissa’s 12 children never said she was violent with them.

Yet in 2008, Melissa was convicted based on statements she made to law enforcement in Cameron County after more than five hours of coercive interrogations that began the same night her youngest child died and continued until 3:00 a.m. the next day. After hours of relentless, aggressive interrogation in the presence of armed detectives, she broke down and told investigators what they wanted to hear to make the questioning stop: “I guess I did it. I’m responsible.” She was pregnant with twins the night of the interrogation. 

False confessions — a leading cause of wrongful conviction

Coerced false confessions are a leading cause of wrongful conviction and even more prevalent among women wrongly convicted of killing a child, like Melissa. As a survivor of lifelong sexual abuse and domestic violence, Melissa was especially vulnerable to police coercion, but at trial she was prevented from presenting any evidence that would have explained why she falsely confessed during the interrogation. 

Lacking solid physical evidence, Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos presented her conciliatory statement to the jury as a “confession” to homicide and sought the death penalty, a “win” he thought would help him get re-elected. Today, the former district attorney is serving a 13-year federal prison sentence for bribery and extortion.

Texas must investigate this innocence claim

The Cameron County’s new district attorney, the courts, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Gov. Abbott must undertake a meaningful review of Melissa’s innocence claim, the coercive tactics used in her interrogation, and the tragic circumstances of Mariah’s accidental death, before an irreversible injustice occurs.

Take action now

 

  1. Make sure everyone on Twitter knows her name: Tweet now
  2. If you live in Texas, call D.A. Saenz and urge him to withdraw the execution date: 956-300-3881
  3. If you live in Texas, contact Gov. Abbott now: 956-446-2866
  4. Purchase Save Melissa Lucio gear.
  5. Share on all social platforms using this social media toolkit.

Help prevent an irreversible injustice. Add your name to stop Texas from killing Melissa. 

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