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Melissa Lucio. Photo: AFP via Getty Images
Melissa Lucio has been granted a stay of execution. Photo: Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach/AFP via Getty Images.

After weeks of pressure, Melissa Lucio’s execution is halted

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the stay, and ordered the case back to trial court to consider the new evidence.

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The case of Melissa Lucio in Texas is something that’s gained rare bipartisan steam over the last month. As a result, the first Latina ever sentenced to death in the history of the state now has a stay of execution.

Lucio was set to be executed this Wednesday, April 27, but facing ever-mounting pressure amid new evidence, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the stay and ordered her case back to trial court for reconsideration.

In 2007, Lucio was convicted of the murder of her two-year-old child, Mariah, after she found her unresponsive in her bedroom. There were signs of child abuse and later x-rays showed Mariah had recently broken her arm.

Her mother was immediately named a suspect because she was home at the time of Mariah’s death. When questioned, Lucio said a few days before her death, her daughter fell down some steps in the house. She didn’t see it happen, but did witness the aftermath, as her daughter appeared sluggish and refused to eat.

Lucio was interrogated for five hours by detectives, and denied all allegations of child abuse under intense scrutiny. Eventually she broke down and appeared to be coerced into giving her confession for the crime by Texas Ranger Victor Escalon.

“What do you want me to say? I’m responsible for it,” she was heard uttering in the footage.

That alleged coercion is at the center of the new effort to save Lucio’s life from execution.

It started with local pushback from officials in Cameron County, Texas and family members, and quickly spread state and nationwide, including more than half of the Texas House of Representatives, foreign ambassadors, former jurors, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

“There are so many unresolved questions surrounding this case and the evidence that was used to convict her,” Kardashian wrote in a tweet on April 6.

Now, that advocacy has paid off for the time being given the stay, but a battle still remains to clear Lucio’s name.

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