This is the first death penalty sentencing in Texas for a person of Hispanic heritage. On the murder charge, she has been accused of killing her daughter. As the state’s first woman of Hispanic origin to be put to death, Melissa Elizabeth Lucio was born on June 18, 1969.
Who Is Melissa Lucio?
Two days before Mariah’s death, Lucio’s counsel claimed that she fell down the stairs and died due to a fall two days before her death. Lucio has a total of twelve children, with Mariah being the last. When Lucio’s eldest children were younger, they were regularly left in the care of their teen siblings, according to Child Protective Services.
Authorities placed Lucio’s children in foster care after she tested positive for cocaine shortly after the birth of her daughter Mariah. Three of the older children moved to reside with their father in Houston, and by the end of 2006, Lucio had regained custody of the rest.
The defendant’s innocence:
In the two hours following her daughter’s death, the police arrested Lucio. Law enforcement’s rigorous questioning tactics were claimed to be particularly dangerous to her as a victim of both sexual abuse and domestic violence. Lucio was partly convicted because of allegations she made during her interrogation that she had beaten her daughter to death.
Schardl, Lucio’s attorney, says that Lucio affirmed her innocence more than 100 times throughout the interview. “It’s simply an example of forced interrogation tactics,” he adds. Furthermore, Schardl reminds us that for the death sentence to be applied to Lucio, a person must be declared a future danger; nevertheless, this was not the case for him.
Lucio’s lawyers’ application for pardon was filed to the governor on March 22, including statements by medical specialists who raised concerns about Lucio’s confession and medical proof. According to police, Mariah’s confession was a “regurgitation” of the facts and statements the officers had told her during their questioning. They claimed that the evidence was consistent with the finding that Mariah died from medical issues following a fall.
Experts in criminal justice argue that the harsh interrogation methods used against Lucio speak to a more significant issue. ” Despite our best efforts, there are still many fraudulent confessions in the system. There were roughly 12% false confessions among the over 3,000 exonerated individuals studied by the National Registry of Exonerations in April 2022.
This percentage jumped from 34% to 69% when the exonerated criminal was a minor or intellectually challenged at the time of the crime. According to the Innocence Project, of the 360 erroneous convictions reversed by DNA evidence in the United States, over 30 percent featured some false confession.”
Kassin believes that Lucio’s confession was obtained due to the police using coercive questioning techniques. When interrogated, she answered, “I guess I did it,” before being handed a doll and repeatedly commanded to hit it with a stick. For this reason, “Rison, because cases do not get reviewed,” argues psychology professor Saul Kassin of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
As a result, the execution has been postponed, and many people are rallying around her.
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