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HOUSTON (AP) — Almost half of the jurors who sentenced a Texas lady to die for the 2007 loss of life of certainly one of her 14 kids have known as for her upcoming execution to be halted and for her to get a brand new trial.

Melissa Lucio, 52, is about to be executed Wednesday for the loss of life of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah in Harlingen, a metropolis of about 75,000 in Texas’ southern tip.

Her legal professionals say new proof exhibits that Mariah’s accidents, together with a blow to the pinnacle, have been attributable to a fall down a steep staircase, and lots of lawmakers and celebrities corresponding to Kim Kardashian, an advocate for prison justice reform, and Amanda Knox — an American whose homicide conviction within the loss of life of a British scholar in Italy was overturned — have rallied to Lucio’s trigger. Prosecutors, although, preserve that the woman was the sufferer of kid abuse.

Lucio’s legal professionals have filed numerous authorized appeals in search of to cease her execution. She additionally has a clemency software earlier than the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which is about to contemplate her case Monday. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott may play a task in deciding Lucio’s destiny. If put to loss of life, Lucio can be the primary Latina ever executed by Texas and the primary lady the state has put to loss of life since 2014.

WHAT ISSUES ARE BEING DEBATED?

Lucio’s attorneys say her capital homicide conviction was based mostly on an unreliable and coerced confession that was the results of relentless questioning and her lengthy historical past of sexual, bodily and emotional abuse. They are saying Lucio wasn’t allowed to current proof questioning the validity of her confession.

Her legal professionals additionally contend that unscientific and false proof misled jurors into believing Mariah’s accidents solely may have been attributable to bodily abuse and never by medical issues from a extreme fall.

“I knew that what I used to be accused of doing was not true. My kids have at all times been my world and though my selections in life weren’t good I might have by no means harm any of my kids in such a approach,” Lucio wrote in a letter to Texas lawmakers.

Cameron County District Lawyer Luis Saenz, whose workplace prosecuted the case, has mentioned he disagrees with Lucio’s legal professionals’ claims that new proof would exonerate her. Prosecutors say Lucio had a historical past of drug abuse and at instances had misplaced custody of a few of her 14 kids.

Throughout a generally contentious Texas Home committee listening to on Lucio’s case this month, Saenz initially pushed again on requests to make use of his energy to cease the execution, earlier than later saying he would intervene if the courts didn’t act.

“I don’t disagree with all of the scrutiny this case is getting. I welcome that,” Saenz mentioned.

Armando Villalobos was the county’s district legal professional when Lucio was convicted in 2008, and Lucio’s legal professionals allege that he pushed for a conviction to assist his reelection bid. In 2014, Villalobos was sentenced to 13 years in federal jail for a bribery scheme associated to providing favorable prosecutorial choices.

WHO IS CALLING FOR LUCIO’S EXECUTION TO BE STOPPED?

Greater than half the members of the Texas Legislature have requested that her execution be halted. A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers traveled this month to Gatesville, the place the state homes feminine loss of life row inmates, and prayed with Lucio.

5 of the 12 jurors who sentenced Lucio and one alternate juror have questioned their resolution and requested she get a brand new trial.

Lucio’s trigger additionally has the backing of religion leaders and was featured on HBO’s “Final Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Lucio’s household and supporters have been touring all through Texas and holding rallies and screenings of a 2020 documentary about her case, “The State of Texas vs. Melissa.”

On Monday, Lucio’s supporters held a prayer vigil contained in the state Capitol in Austin as they waited for phrase of a choice by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on her clemency software. On Saturday, supporters held rallies in 16 U.S. cities, together with Houston, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio.

WHERE DO EFFORTS TO HALT HER EXECUTION STAND?

Appeals in search of to cease Lucio’s execution are pending in state and federal courts.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is contemplating a request to both commute her loss of life sentence to life imprisonment or grant her a 120-day execution reprieve.

Any resolution by the board to commute her sentence or grant the reprieve would want Abbott’s approval. The governor, who has granted clemency to just one loss of life row inmate since taking workplace in 2015, may additionally unilaterally problem a 30-day execution keep. Abbott commuted a loss of life sentence to life with out parole for Thomas “Bart” Whitaker, who was convicted of fatally taking pictures his mom and brother. Whitaker’s father was additionally shot however survived and led the trouble to spare his son’s life.

HOW FREQUENTLY ARE WOMEN EXECUTED?

It’s uncommon within the U.S., in keeping with the Washington-based Dying Penalty Info Heart, a nonprofit that opposes capital punishment. Girls have accounted for less than 3.6% of the greater than 16,000 confirmed executions within the U.S. relationship again to the colonial interval within the 1600s, in keeping with the group’s information.

For the reason that U.S. Supreme Court docket reinstated the loss of life penalty in 1976, 17 girls have been executed all through the nation, in keeping with the information. Texas has put extra girls to loss of life — six — than some other state. Oklahoma is subsequent, with three, and Florida has executed two.

The federal authorities has executed one lady since 1976. Lisa Montgomery, of Kansas, obtained a deadly injection in January 2021 after the Trump administration resumed executions within the federal system following a 17-year hiatus. The Justice Division has halted executions once more underneath the Biden administration.

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Observe Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70.


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