Melissa Lucio faces death penalty for ‘crime that never happened’
Gatesville, United States, Apr 1 (EFE).- The case of Melissa Lucio, a Hispanic mother who was sentenced to death for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, has attracted the attention of numerous organizations, experts and legislators who insist she is innocent.
“We have overwhelming evidence that the conviction is based on false testimony, that there was no murder, that Mariah’s death was an accident,” Tivon Schardl, one of Melissa’s lawyers, told Efe a month before his client’s execution is scheduled for.
In 2008, Melissa, 53, became the first woman of Hispanic descent in Texas to be sentenced to death.
She was prosecuted for allegedly abusing and beating her daughter, who had a leg deformation, to death.
Melissa’s defendants have argued the child was the victim of an accident when she fell down the stairs in their home in Harlingen, Texas, and died of a craniocerebral contusion two days later.
“There was an immediate rush to judgment, police formed an opinion of what happened almost immediately and from there tunnel vision set in,” director of special litigation at The Innocence Project, Vanessa Potkin, told Efe.
Since the conviction, Melissa has been incarcerated in Mountain View prison in Texas, a maximum security prison and the only one in the state with women on death row.
Experts believe the police built a biased case from the very beginning because of her Hispanic background.
“Really there was no investigation into what happened to Mariah and instead the investigation focused on building a case against Melissa,” Potkin said.
Police reportedly interrogated Melissa aggressively for five hours, without a lawyer present, forcing her to give a false confession.
“If I had been of another race, someone with money, with a high school degree or a career, I think the jury would have seen things in a very different way,” Melissa told Efe.
Nearly 90 Texas House of Representatives have signed a petition for the execution of Melissa to be halted or at least delayed.
“The system literally failed Melissa Lucio at every single turn. 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,” Republican Congressman Jeff Leach said at a press conference recently.
“Melissa’s case illustrates yet again why the Texas death penalty process cannot be trusted to provide justice to all, it is a deeply flawed process rife with human error and inconsistency,” Democratic Congressman Joe Moody said. EFE