A group of Texas senators is pleading with the state to postpone or commute the execution of a woman convicted of murdering her toddler daughter due to doubts about her guilt.
Texas lawmakers have signed a letter expressing their support for Melissa Lucio, 53, who is set to die via lethal injection on April 27.
“We respectfully request that you pay special attention to new scientific evidence that has emerged since Ms. Lucio’s trial indicating that her daughter, Mariah, died in a sad accident rather than as a result of an intentional capital murder,” the letter states.
Lucio, a former janitor, was convicted in 2007 of murdering her two-year-old daughter Mariah. According to the Texas Tribune, the girl died as a result of a blunt-force blow to the head.
However, the legislators assert that “Ms. Lucio was sentenced for a murder that, simply put, did not occur, and there is no eyewitness statement to the contrary.” Ms. Lucio’s story should give even the most ardent supporters of the death penalty pause.”
Investigators discovered bruises, scrapes, and a bite mark on the toddler’s body after she was discovered dead.
While Lucio admitted whipping and biting Mariah, she denied any involvement in her head injury. Lucio’s attorney, The Innocence Project of Texas, says the youngster fell down the stairs at their house days before. The two shared an apartment at the time with Lucio’s husband and nine other children, Mariah being the youngest.
At a rally calling for the mother’s clemency, one of her sons told KXAN, “She’s a wonderful mother.” She is not an ideal mother. Each of us has flaws.”
The lawmakers’ letter highlights inconsistencies in how Lucio and her husband were treated following the girl’s death.
“Unlike Ms. Lucio, who had no recorded history of violence toward her children, her husband had a history of assaultive behaviour but is now free following a four-year prison sentence for child endangerment,” they add.