Things That Matter

Newly Released Audio Reveals Melissa Lucio’s Reaction to Her Stay of Execution

Melissa Lucio, the Texas-born Latina who was sentenced to death for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah, has been granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the grounds that Lucio was not granted a fair and honest trial during her initial prosecution.

Lucio, a mother of 14, has maintained her innocence since the very beginning and has repeatedly stated that she was pressured into offering a false confession following five hours of intense interrogation.

Newly released audio reveals Lucio’s heartwarming reaction to the news of her stay of execution, delivered to her by Texas State Representative Jeff Leach. “Have you heard the news?” he asks her before revealing, “The Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution for Wednesday.” Lucio, who was unaware of the ruling, immediately breaks down into tears of joy.

“Are you serious?” she asks through tears. “Oh my god! That is wonderful!” she continues, before asking, “What does that mean?”

Rep. Leach explains that not only will Lucio live to fight another day, but that she’ll be getting a new trial. According to an article in MSN:

“Of the nine claims Lucio raised in her habeas application, the appellate court ordered the trial court to consider four of them, including her assertions she is innocent and new scientific evidence precludes her conviction. Lucio also argued the state relied on false testimony and suppressed evidence favorable to her defense.”

Basically, this means Melissa Lucio is getting a do-over, where she and her defense will be able to present the case they should have presented the first time around. However, it’s not quite as simple as one might think. Lucio doesn’t automatically get a new trial, and she will remain on death row for the time being. With that said, the same article from MSN reports:

“According to Lucio’s attorneys, the trial court in Brownsville will hold proceedings to hear the evidence of Lucio’s innocence. The court would then make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which will ultimately decide whether Lucio should receive a new trial, Tivon Schardl, one of Lucio’s attorneys, said at a virtual news conference Monday.

‘There’s still a long way to go in Melissa’s case, and there’s much more that stands in the way of Melissa and an exoneration,’ said Vanessa Potkin, the director of special litigation at the Innocence Project, whose attorneys are also working on Lucio’s case.

‘But today’s stay and remand to have hearings on new evidence of her innocence really opens the door to the potential of a new trial in her case,’ Potkin told reporters, ‘and ultimately, complete vindication.'”

Rep. Leach ends the call by telling Melissa, “Melissa, I love you to death. There’s been a lot of really great people working on this on your behalf, and I would say millions who have been praying for you. You know that. It’s been an honor to fight for you and believe so strongly in your cause and, of course, remember Mariah today. And I know you do as well. This isn’t the end, and we’re going to continue to work together to make sure that the right thing is done and that hopefully, ultimately, you’re free. That’s the goal.”

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