AUSTIN, Texas (NEXSTAR) — In just one month, a Latina Texas woman is set to be executed.
Melissa Lucio, from the Rio Grande Valley, would be the first Latina to be executed in the state of Texas.
Her family and other supporters feel she was wrongly convicted, arguing there was coercion, and corruption surrounds her case.
Lucio was convicted of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008. She’s been on death row for 15 years.
“Free her now!” a group chanted.
Often times when people feel powerless, they try to use their voices. Death Penalty Action, a nonprofit, is talking to anyone who will listen.
Led by Abraham Bonowitz, the group has been to about 12 Texas cities in the past few months, telling Lucio’s story.
“This is mental torture,” Roderick Reed, whose brother Rodney Reed is currently on death row in Bastrop County Texas. “We live this s—,” Reed said. “We live this s—.”
People like Reed and others who know what it’s like to have a relative waiting for an execution date stand beside the Lucio family.
“I had to defend my brother and he is now off death row,” Charles Keith said.
Back in 2007, Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter was found with bruises and bite marks. A pathologist testified in court it was the worst case of child abuse she had ever seen.
According to court records, Lucio, who was on drugs when the incident happened, told police her daughter fell down the stairs. She then later admitted to spanking her, somewhat forcefully.
Her supporters feel she was pressured to say this, and want the case re-examined.
“Well, the courts can decide that she gets a new evidentiary hearing and look at what evidence doesn’t exist and what evidence there is for her innocence,” Bonowitz said. “The Cameron County District Attorney can withdraw the execution, warren and reinvestigate the case and free her.”
If those avenues don’t work, the director of DPA said it could come down to the governor granting Lucio clemency.
According to the Pew Research Center, Texas has executed more people than any other state — 573. Since the 70’s, 186 nationwide have been exonerated, after being wrongfully convicted.
Lucio supporters are hoping to add her name to that list.
“She’s a great mother. She’s not a perfect mother,” said Lucio’s son, John. “We all have imperfections. Half of me believes that she’s already saved. But then there’s also that other half that is scary still.”
The fear of the unknown can’t be ignored, but those who love Lucio will fight until the end to save her.
The former Cameron County District Attorney, where Lucio was on trial, was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison after her trial for a separate bribery scheme.
Lucio’s supporters argue his influence corrupted her case.
Thursday, a group of Republican and Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives said they are planning to send a letter to the Texas board of pardons and paroles, asking its members to intervene in Lucio’s case before her execution on April 27.
At last check, at least 90 lawmakers agreed to add their names to the letter, more than half of the 150 legislators that make up the House.