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Texas court delays woman’s execution

Supporters of death row inmate Melissa Lucio protest her sentence at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Monday. Associated Press/Photo by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

Texas court delays woman’s execution

Melissa Lucio was scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday for killing her toddler in 2007. The majority of both state legislative chambers had asked the parole board and the governor to intervene. The Court of Criminal Appeals granted defense lawyers’ request for a stay of execution Monday and will allow a lower court to review new evidence.

What happened? Mariah Lucio, 2, was found unresponsive in a Harlingen, Texas, apartment and died later that day. Lucio said Mariah fell down the stairs two days earlier and had become lethargic since then. But the medical examiner found numerous bruises, bite marks, and past broken bones. She suspected physical abuse and ruled the death a homicide. Police interrogated Lucio late into the night, during which she admitted to spanking and biting her child and said, “I guess I did it.” Advocates called the confession coerced, and another pathologist disagreed with the autopsy findings. Prosecutors called Lucio an abusive mother, pointing to a history of drug abuse and losing custody of some of her 14 children, two of whom were born while she was incarcerated.

Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about a lawsuit against Texas’ ban on audible prayer and touch for death row inmates during execution.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


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