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Texas Judge Recommends Overturning Melissa Lucio’s Conviction and Death Sentence

A Texas judge recently recommended overturning the conviction and sentence of a mother on death row, finding that prosecutors withheld crucial evidence that could have led to her innocence in the death of her 2-year-old daughter in 2007.

The withheld evidence, including a report from Child Protective Services and interviews with the surviving children of Melissa Lucio, supported the defense’s argument that Lucio’s daughter, Mariah Alvarez, died from an accidental fall down the stairs, not from abuse by her mother as claimed by the state.

The case now goes back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which halted Lucio’s execution two days before it was scheduled in 2022, for further review and a possible overturning of her conviction.

Lucio’s case has garnered support from various sources, including celebrity Kim Kardashian and Texas legislators, as well as some members of her jury, calling for clemency. Since 1973, at least 197 individuals in the US have been exonerated after being sentenced to death, with 16 cases from Texas alone.

The recommendation by Judge Arturo Nelson follows a joint agreement between Lucio’s attorneys and the Cameron County Prosecutor’s Office acknowledging the suppression of favorable evidence by the State. Both sides agreed that Lucio deserved relief, leading to the judge’s decision to support her appeal.

Lucio’s sons and daughter-in-law expressed gratitude towards their mother’s legal team and the prosecutor for seeking justice, hoping for a favorable decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals to reunite their family after 17 years of separation.

The case revolves around the death of Mariah, where prosecutors alleged Lucio’s abuse led to her demise, while the defense maintained it was an accidental fall. The withheld evidence from Child Protective Services and witness statements from Lucio’s children could have altered the trial’s outcome had it been presented.

If the evidence had been disclosed to Lucio’s defense team, they could have challenged the prosecution’s narrative and possibly changed the trial’s outcome, concluding that there was a reasonable probability of a different verdict if all evidence had been considered.

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