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HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas appeals courtroom on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio amid rising doubts about whether or not she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter in a case that has garnered the help of lawmakers, celebrities and even some jurors who sentenced her to dying.
The Texas Court docket of Legal Appeals granted a request by Lucio’s attorneys for a keep of execution so a decrease courtroom can assessment her claims that new proof would exonerate her.
Lucio had been set for deadly injection Wednesday for the 2007 dying of her daughter Mariah in Harlingen, a metropolis of about 75,000 in Texas’ southern tip.
Prosecutors have maintained that the woman was the sufferer of abuse and famous that her physique was lined in bruises. Lucio’s attorneys say Mariah died from accidents she sustained in a fall down a steep staircase a number of days earlier than she died.
“I’m grateful the courtroom has given me the possibility to dwell and show my innocence,” Lucio stated in an announcement offered by her attorneys. “Mariah is in my coronary heart in the present day and at all times. I’m grateful to have extra days to be a mom to my kids and a grandmother to my grandchildren. I’ll use my time to assist carry them to Christ. I’m deeply grateful to everybody who prayed for me and spoke out on my behalf.”
Lucio’s mom, Esperanza Treviño, tearfully thanked all of her daughter’s supporters, saying, “Thank God for the miracle.”
Lucio was first instructed her execution had been delayed in a telephone name with state Rep. Jeff Leach, a Republican who has helped lead a bipartisan effort to halt her execution, stated Vanessa Potkin, one among Lucio’s attorneys who’s with the Innocence Undertaking.
“She sobbed. She was simply overwhelmed,” stated Potkin.
In an announcement, Leach stated he was grateful the appeals courtroom had “pushed the pause button on her execution, saving the state of Texas from the irreversible blunder of doubtless killing an harmless citizen.”
The execution keep was introduced minutes earlier than the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had been set to think about Lucio’s clemency utility to both commute her dying sentence or grant her a 120-day reprieve. The paroles board didn’t assessment her clemency petition due to the execution keep. If the case had been to come back again earlier than the board sooner or later, Lucio’s attorneys must file a brand new petition.
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 being sexually, bodily and emotionally abused. They are saying Lucio wasn’t allowed to current proof questioning the validity of her confession.
Her attorneys additionally contend that unscientific and false proof misled jurors into believing Mariah’s accidents might have been triggered solely by abuse and never by medical issues from a extreme fall.
“It will have shocked the general public’s conscience for Melissa to be put to dying based mostly on false and incomplete medical proof for a criminal offense that by no means even occurred,” stated Potkin. “All the new proof of her innocence has by no means earlier than been thought-about by any courtroom. The courtroom’s keep permits us to proceed combating alongside Melissa to overturn her wrongful conviction.”
Cameron County District Legal professional Luis Saenz, whose workplace prosecuted the case, stated in an announcement he anticipated the execution to be delayed as a result of varied authorized points stay unresolved.
“I welcome the chance to prosecute this case within the courtroom: the place witnesses testify beneath oath, the place witnesses could also be cross-examined, the place proof is ruled by the foundations of proof and felony process … That’s our felony jurisprudence system, and it’s working,” stated Saenz, who was not in workplace when Lucio was tried in 2008.
Throughout a generally contentious Texas Home committee listening to on Lucio’s case this month, Saenz had stated he disagreed with Lucio’s attorneys’ 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.
In its three-page order, the appeals courtroom requested that the trial courtroom in Brownsville that dealt with Lucio’s case assessment 4 claims her attorneys have made: whether or not prosecutors used false proof to convict her; whether or not beforehand unavailable scientific proof would have prevented her conviction; whether or not she is definitely harmless; and whether or not prosecutors suppressed proof that may have been favorable to her protection.
It was not instantly recognized when the decrease courtroom would start reviewing her case. Tivon Schardl, one among Lucio’s attorneys, stated they hope to persuade the trial decide to suggest a brand new trial. If such a advice is made, that may then be despatched to the Texas Court docket of Legal Appeals, which might make the ultimate determination on a brand new trial.
Greater than half the members of the Texas Legislature had requested that her execution be halted. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers traveled this month to Gatesville, the place the state homes feminine dying row inmates, and prayed with Lucio.
A kind of lawmakers, El Paso Democratic state Rep. Joe Moody, tweeted that he was relieved for Lucio. “A keep confirms what we’ve stated all alongside: Melissa Lucio shouldn’t be on dying row,” he wrote.
5 of the 12 jurors who sentenced Lucio and one alternate juror have questioned their determination and requested that she get a brand new trial.
Lucio’s trigger additionally has the backing of religion leaders and celebrities resembling Kim Kardashian, and it was featured on HBO’s “Final Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Comply with Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70
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