In 2020 Hulu released the true-crime documentary The State of Texas vs. Melissa. In the documentary, the creators follow Melissa Lucio, who was sentenced to death in 2008 after being accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Mariah Lucio. But Lucio claims she was caught in the middle of a corrupt system and is innocent of murder. Now it is up to her and her family to fight the State of Texas to save her life. Of course, documentaries are biased and are presented with a motive, but this documentary may lead to enough unanswered questions to make anyone question if Mariah Lucio truly deserves the death penalty.

By Nisie Govea Jimenez


In the early 2000s, Melissa Lucio was a single mother of 14 children. Unfortunately, it was increasingly challenging to afford her large family, and she found herself in persistent poverty. It was not uncommon for all the children to share one room, and CPS was often involved because the family was homeless or did not have enough resources for the necessities. Authorities never believed Mellissa Lucio was a danger to her children. But they did report domestic violence in the house between Melissa and her boyfriend. There was also reported drug use. CPS eventually removed some of her older children from home due to neglect. However, despite Lucio’s inability to adequately provide for her oversized family, thousands of pages of Child Protective Service documents show zero evidence of physical abuse towards any of her children. Tragically, being stuck in the vicious cycle of life in poverty may have led this family to the nightmare they now face.

It was 2007 when the Lucio family was forced to move again. During this move, little two-year-old Mariah Lucio would lose her young life. Baby Lucio’s older brother claims he witnessed his sister fall from the top of the rickety rotting staircase connected to their apartment. He didn’t notice any apparent injuries from the accident, so they continued their day. Melissa Lucio was aware of the fall but did not see immediate cause for action. It wasn’t until her daughter’s injuries became more apparent two days later but she waited too late and had to call an ambulance for help. Two-year-old Mariah Lucio was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. Doctors were amazed at the extent of injuries on the little victim’s body and immediately accused Melissa Lucio of severely abusing Mariah. Soon after, police took Lucio into custody and began interrogating her. Authorities questioned Melissa until the early hours until she finally admitted to killing her daughter. But, according to Melissa and her children, she was not a murderer and gave a false confession while under extreme pressure from the police.

Peter Gilman was appointed to be Lucio’s lead council, and the State was prepared to offer a plea deal. She was given the option to serve 30 years for pleading guilty to murder, but she did not accept. Melissa didn’t believe she should plead guilty to murder when it was just a horrific and tragic accident. However, she was eventually found guilty at trial and was sentenced to death row. Her death is set for April 27 of this year. While being interviewed for our Ca Pasa Today podcast, Melissa Lucio’s son said that since the State of Texas announced the date for execution, he is worried every day for his mother’s life as he fears she may be “Murdered by the state of Texas.”

Next Week – Part Two: How did we get here?

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