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Lawmakers Want Death Penalty Reprieve For Woman Convicted Of Killing Toddler Daughter Amid Questions Over Guilt

A bipartisan group of Texas Lawmakers says there is "new scientific evidence that has emerged" that shows Melissa Lucio, scheduled to be executed on April 27, didn't murder her daughter in 2007.

By Gina Tron
A police handout of Melissa Lucio

A group of Texas lawmakers is asking that the execution of a woman convicted of killing her toddler daughter be delayed or commuted amid questions about her guilt.  

Eighty-three Texas legislators have signed a letter in support of Melissa Lucio, 53, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 27.

“We ask that you pay particular attention to the new scientific evidence that has emerged since the time of Ms. Lucio’s trial showing that her daughter, Mariah, died after a tragic accident rather than an intentional capital murder,” the letter states.

Lucio, a former janitor, was convicted for the death of her 2-year-old child Mariah in 2007. The girl died of a blunt-force injury to the head, the Texas Tribune reports.

However, the lawmakers say that “Ms. Lucio was sentenced for a murder that, simply put, did not take place, and no eyewitness account exists saying otherwise. Ms. Lucio’s case is one that gives even the strongest death penalty proponents among us pause.”

When the toddler was found dead, investigators discovered bruises, scratches and a bite mark on her body. 

While Lucio admitted to spanking and biting Mariah, she denied having anything to do with a head injury. The Innocence Project of Texas, who is representing Lucio, says the child had fallen down the stairs at their home days earlier. At the time, the two lived with Lucio’s husband and nine other children; Mariah was the youngest.

At a rally asking for clemency for the mother, one of her sons told KXAN, “She’s a great mother. She’s not a perfect mother. We all have imperfections.”

In their letter, Lawmakers point out disparities between how Lucio and her husband were treated following the girl’s death.

“Unlike Ms. Lucio, who had no documented history of violence towards her children, her husband had a history of assaultive behavior but is now a free man after serving a four-year sentence for child endangerment,” they state.