As the days, hours and minutes tick away until Melissa Lucio’s scheduled execution, her mother – true to her own name – still holds out hope. “She’s coming home,” Esperanza “Hope” Correa Treviño said. “I told her she was coming home.”
Lucio, a mother of 14, is on death row for the 2007 murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. New evidence suggests the death may have been an accident – and today the Texas Board of Pardons and Pardons is expected to make its recommendation on the case, which it will forward to Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
The council could recommend commuting Lucio’s sentence, granting a 120-day reprieve to give the courts more time to decide Lucio’s fate or upholding Wednesday’s execution.
If the date stands, Lucio will be the first Latina executed in Texas.
Treviño told CBS News correspondent Lilia Luciano, “I have kids, and they hurt me. It hurts me to lose one of my kids.”
In 2007, Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, died. Detectives and an autopsy determined child abuse was the cause and Lucio the culprit. But new evidence from forensic experts suggests the bruises were consistent with brain damage from an accidental fall down steep stairs two days earlier, as Lucio and some of his children told officers and services of child protection.
But the jurors have never heard of them. What they heard is what testimony experts now consider to be forced confessions. Lucio was convicted and sentenced to death.
In an unprecedented move, a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 Texas lawmakers came together to reach a clear consensus: Lucio should get a new trial.
Republican State Rep. Jeff Leach said, “If this execution is allowed, I think it would seriously weaken our criminal justice system. And we’re doing everything we can to lock up the guns and try to prevent that from happening.” not happen.”
Democratic State Rep. Joe Moody added, “We need to hit the pause button and get this thing right.”
Lawmakers implored Luis Saenz, the Cameron County Democratic prosecutor, to intervene. On April 12, they asked what he needed to make a decision on suspending Lucio’s execution date. His response: “At this point, it’s not my decision, it’s the court’s decision to make.”
Lucio’s defense filed four requests for a stay of execution; Saenz never intervened.
He declined to speak to CBS News.
Lucio’s conviction, and now his impending execution, continues to weigh on the family. Lucio’s sister, Sonya Alvarez, said: “It’s very stressful. Sometimes I just want to put myself in a hole and I don’t want to know anything. But that’s the reality.”
Although Lucio has faith that someone will intervene, even his mother’s hope is tested: “She has a lot of hope,” Treviño told Luciano.
“Well, sometimes I am. And sometimes I’m not,” Treviño said. “The DA, he has his own kids. I don’t think he would like that to happen to his kids.”