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Death row inmate and mother-of-14 could be saved after 'new evidence' emerges
Featured Image Credit: CBS Evening News via YouTube

Death row inmate and mother-of-14 could be saved after 'new evidence' emerges

Melissa Lucio was convicted in 2008, but statements from her children were never presented

Prosecutors working on the case of death row inmate Melissa Lucio have said evidence which was suppressed at her murder trial could have prevented her conviction.

Lucio, a mom-of-14, was convicted in 2008 for the death of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah, in Texas in 2007.

Melissa Lucio was convicted in 2008. (NBC News)
Melissa Lucio was convicted in 2008. (NBC News)

Prosecutors long maintained Mariah had been a victim of abuse and noted that her body had been covered in bruises, but Lucio's defense argued Mariah had died following an accidental fall down a steep staircase.

Lucio was originally set to die by lethal injection in April 2022, but two days before her scheduled execution, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals delayed the injection so state District Judge Gabriela Garcia could review Lucio's claims that new evidence would exonerate her.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz initially said he disagreed with her claims, but this month he acknowledged her legal team 'did not have access to information favorable to her defense at the time of trial'.

The suppressed evidence includes witness statements and a report by Child Protective Services which would have corroborated Lucio's defense, Associated Press reports.

The CPS report indicated one of Lucio’s children had told a CPS worker he was present when Mariah 'fell down some stairs', and that their mother had not been abusive to them or Mariah.

Lucio's attorneys were also reportedly not provided with statements made by two of her other children, who had told police that Mariah had been injured in a fall.

The children also said Lucio had grown worried about Mariah's declining health before her death.

Together with Lucio’s attorneys, the office of Saenz has produced a 33-page agreement laying out the facts and conclusions in the case, which stated: “She would not have been convicted in light of the suppressed evidence."

The DA has recommended overturning Lucio's conviction. (NBC News)
The DA has recommended overturning Lucio's conviction. (NBC News)

It is unclear why the evidence was suppressed, but the agreement has recommended that Lucio's conviction and death sentence be overturned; a decision which now lies with Texas judge Garcia.

Garcia received the findings on 20 December, 2022, but she is yet to issue a ruling and forward her decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The court of appeals will then be responsible for making the final decision.

Lucio’s son, John Lucio, and his wife, Michelle, stood by Lucio as they shared their appreciation for the agreement.

“We are grateful to District Attorney Saenz for recognizing that evidence that our baby sister Mariah’s death was an accident, not a murder, was never presented to the jury," they said in a statement.

"We are also thankful to Melissa’s legal team. We hope and pray that our mother can soon come home to her family."

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, the Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, US Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Topics: Crime, Death Row, US News, Texas