AUSTIN (KXAN) — A growing number of Texas lawmakers is joining a call for the state to spare the life of a woman on death row.
A group of Republican and Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives announced they’re planning to send a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask its members to intervene in Melissa Lucio’s case before her execution on April 27. By the end of a news conference Thursday morning, they said at least 90 legislators have now agreed to add their names to the letter, which represents a supermajority of the Texas House.
“As a conservative Republican myself who has long been a supporter of the death penalty in the most heinous cases, I have never seen a more troubling case than the case of Melissa Lucio,” Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Allen, said.
Leach spoke alongside Reps. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), James White (R-Hillister), Lacey Hull (R-Houston), Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas). This bipartisan group questioned whether Lucio is guilty of capital murder in her infant daughter’s death.
“It’s important for us to remember that a two-year-old Texan lost her life,” Leach said. “The facts of how she did are still in grave dispute, but there’s no question we lost a fellow Texan.”
Lucio was arrested in Feb. 2007 and then later convicted of capital murder in 2008 after the death of her two-year-old daughter Mariah. Earlier this week, according to the Innocence Project, Lucio’s attorneys filed an application for clemency saying there’s new evidence showing that she “was wrongly convicted and condemned to die for the accidental death of her daughter, Mariah.”
Thompson criticized the interrogation techniques used to elicit Lucio’s confession 15 years ago. Anchia also pointed out statements from the Lucio family.
“All of Mariah’s brothers and sisters have directly asked the board to spare Melissa’s life, saying it would amount to ‘fresh pain, anguish and grief for the entire family,'” Anchia said.
Hull said she thought “the process failed Melissa every step of the way,” adding that four jurors who convicted Lucio released statements now asking for Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop the execution from happening.
“As awful as precious little Mariah’s death was and is, and as much as we want justice for Mariah,” Hull said, “the facts simply do not support any conclusion that Ms. Lucio committed capital murder and is deserving of the ultimate punishment by the state of Texas.”
A spokesperson said the Board of Pardons and Paroles had no comment to offer at this time. No one from Gov. Abbott’s office responded Thursday to a request for comment yet.