Melissa Lucio, a 52-year-old Mexican American woman, is scheduled to be executed in Texas on April 27, 2022. She was convicted in 2008 of the 2007 murder of her two-year-old daughter. New expert evidence bolsters the claim that the death was the result of an accidental fall, that key trial testimony alleging child abuse was unscientific, and that Melissa Lucio’s incriminating statements made under interrogation – key in her prosecution – were unreliable. Amnesty International believes her execution would violate international law given the serious concern about the reliability of her conviction and the unfairness of the trial. Amnesty International is urging the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Texas Governor to grant clemency.
- Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on April 27, 2022.
- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to the government official listed below. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor,
PO Box 12428, Austin
Texas 78711-2428, USA
Contact Form: https://gov.texas.gov/apps/contact/opinion.aspx
Dear Governor Abbott,
is due to be executed in Texas on April 27, 2022, after being convicted in 2008 of the capital murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. There are serious questions about the reliability of her conviction, about how the state obtained and used her incriminating statements, and indeed about whether there was a murder at all.
Given what they have learned since the trial, several jurors now question their verdict. Their signed declarations are before you, as are new declarations and reports of seven leading experts, from various disciplines, who have studied the case in detail and question the outcome. A forensic pathologist, for example, writes how the investigation into the child’s death had been “significantly prejudiced, not evidence based, and without an adequate consideration of alternative issues”. He also noted that the medical evidence was “consistent with a cause of death related to a fall down the stairs two days before Mariah’s collapse”. Another expert writes that aspects of the state medical examiner’s testimony were “scientifically indefensible”, “inflammatory”, and amounted to “gross speculation”.
According to a leading expert in the field, Melissa Lucio met 10 of the 17 risk factors to making a false confession, including a history of sexual and physical abuse, mental disability including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and poor verbal comprehension. She “was relentlessly pressured and extensively manipulated” by the interrogators who from the outset “presumed her guilty of having murdered the child.” A fundamental aspect of the presumption of innocence is the right not to be compelled to incriminate oneself, and any coercion to this end (including but not limited to torture and other ill-treatment) is prohibited under international law, whether direct or indirect, physical, or psychological.
The procedural constraints of federal law are why Melissa Lucio remains on death row despite 10 judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concluding that the trial judge was wrong to exclude expert testimony which would have sought to explain why the defendant’s incriminating statements – the basis of the case against her – were unreliable. The judge’s decision deprived Melissa Lucio of a fair trial. As such her execution would violate international law. International law also prohibits the execution of anyone whose conviction is not based upon “clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts”. Here there is room for serious doubt.
I urge you to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio and to ensure that her death sentence is commuted.