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HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas appeals courtroom on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio amid rising doubts about whether or not she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter in a case that has garnered the assist of lawmakers, celebrities and even some jurors who sentenced her to dying.
The Texas Courtroom of Prison Appeals granted a request by Lucio’s attorneys for a keep of execution so a decrease courtroom can evaluate her claims that new proof would exonerate her. It was not instantly identified when the decrease courtroom would start reviewing her case.
Lucio had been set for deadly injection Wednesday for the 2007 dying of her daughter Mariah in Harlingen, a metropolis of about 75,000 in Texas’ southern tip.
Prosecutors have maintained that the lady was the sufferer of abuse and famous that her physique was lined in bruises. Lucio’s attorneys say Mariah died from accidents she sustained in a fall down a steep staircase a number of days earlier than she died.
“I’m grateful the courtroom has given me the possibility to dwell and show my innocence,” Lucio mentioned in a press release supplied by her attorneys. “Mariah is in my coronary heart in the present day and all the time. I’m grateful to have extra days to be a mom to my youngsters and a grandmother to my grandchildren. I’ll use my time to assist carry them to Christ. I’m deeply grateful to everybody who prayed for me and spoke out on my behalf.”
The execution keep was introduced minutes earlier than the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had been set to contemplate Lucio’s clemency software to both commute her dying sentence or grant her a 120-day reprieve.
Lucio’s attorneys say her capital homicide conviction was primarily based on an unreliable and coerced confession that was the results of relentless questioning and her lengthy historical past of being sexually, bodily and emotionally abused. They are saying Lucio wasn’t allowed to current proof questioning the validity of her confession.
Her attorneys additionally contend that unscientific and false proof misled jurors into believing Mariah’s accidents might have been brought on solely by abuse and never by medical issues from a extreme fall.
“It could have shocked the general public’s conscience for Melissa to be put to dying primarily based on false and incomplete medical proof for a criminal offense that by no means even occurred,” mentioned Vanessa Potkin, one among Lucio’s attorneys who’s with the Innocence Venture. “All the new proof of her innocence has by no means earlier than been thought of by any courtroom. The courtroom’s keep permits us to proceed combating alongside Melissa to overturn her wrongful conviction.”
A spokeswoman for Cameron County District Legal professional Luis Saenz, whose workplace prosecuted the case, didn’t instantly return an e-mail looking for remark.
In its three-page order, the appeals courtroom requested that the trial courtroom in Brownsville that dealt with Lucio’s case evaluate 4 claims her attorneys have made: whether or not prosecutors used false proof to convict her; whether or not beforehand unavailable scientific proof would have prevented her conviction; whether or not she is definitely harmless; and whether or not prosecutors suppressed proof that may have been favorable to her protection.
Throughout a generally contentious Texas Home committee listening to on Lucio’s case this month, Saenz had mentioned he disagreed with Lucio’s attorneys’ claims that new proof would exonerate her. Prosecutors say Lucio had a historical past of drug abuse and at instances had misplaced custody of a few of her 14 youngsters.
Greater than half the members of the Texas Legislature had requested that her execution be halted. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers traveled this month to Gatesville, the place the state homes feminine dying row inmates, and prayed with Lucio.
A type of lawmakers, El Paso Democratic state Rep. Joe Moody, tweeted that he was relieved for Lucio. “A keep confirms what we’ve mentioned all alongside: Melissa Lucio shouldn’t be on dying row,” he wrote.
5 of the 12 jurors who sentenced Lucio and one alternate juror have questioned their resolution and requested that she get a brand new trial.
Lucio’s trigger additionally has the backing of religion leaders and celebrities akin to Kim Kardashian, and it was featured on HBO’s “Final Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Comply with Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70
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