On July 22, 2008, Melissa was found guilty of Capital Murder for the death of her two-year-old daughter Mariah Lucio and was sentenced to death. This verdict and sentencing came after a trial that many now believe was utterly unfair and facilitated by a corrupt court.

Story By Nisie Govea Jimenez




Melissa had no money, so she was provided with court-appointed counsel. Both Mr. Peter Gilman and his wife, Mrs. Gilman, were lead attorneys in charge of her case, and from the beginning, the family was uneasy with the arrangement, but they had no other options. Like any murder trial, it is up to Lucio and her legal team to develop a defense, and hers was that Mariah fell from the top of the old staircase. The defense was palpable since her son John Lucio claims to have witnessed his sister fall and described being surprised she was not more visibly injured. Nevertheless, Cameron County District Attorney Armando believed Mariah’s death was no accident. Melissa was offered a plea deal and would serve only 30 years if she pleaded guilty to the murder of her daughter. However, she refused to plead guilty to a crime she claims she did not commit.

District Attorney Armando used Melissa’s recorded statements from her interrogation and presented them as “confessions” to the jury during the trial. At the same time, the interrogating officer, Texas Ranger Victor Escalon, may have provoked some of her statements after hours of harsh interrogation without Melissa receiving any food or water. The most damning statement made during the interrogation was when Melissa was finally beaten down by officials enough to say, “I guess I did it. I am responsible.” However, after hours of being screamed at and told by Escalon, “Right now, it looks like you are a cold-blooded killer. Are you a cold-blooded killer, or were you a frustrated mother who just took it out on her?” He continued by telling her, “we already know what happened.” Officials were also allowed to testify that Melissa seemed emotionless about her daughter’s death at the time of the incident, while the defense was not allowed to explain how Melissa’s past abuse would explain her reaction to such a shocking incident. Melissa’s chances of being proven innocent without the jury knowing the entire story were nonexistent.

Melissa was not going to win her case, and after she was found guilty, she would endure her painful sentence to death row, where she still sits today almost 15 years later. She has not changed her story throughout this time and still clings to her innocence.

Since 2008 when Melissa was officially charged for the murder of her daughter, she and her legal team have gone after her original legal team Mr. and Mrs. Gilman, and the preceding judge at the time of the 2008 trial, Judge Gabriela Garcia. Melissa’s attorneys claim that Mr. Gilman’s advancement to Assistant District attorney after her conviction is a significant conflict of interest because he was now working for the same judge preceding over her execution. Gilman must be able to cooperate with her new council in future proceedings but has been unable to do so. Further, Lucio’s current legal team stated, “Judge Garcia’s and D.A. Saenz’s roles, in this case, have the effect of obstructing Melissa Lucio’s access to evidence.” To make matters worse, the district attorney at the time of Lucio’s conviction in 2008 is currently serving a 13-year prison for extortion in a different case. However, time continues to run out for Melissa and her family.

Now, Melissa is just days away from her execution, and her lawyers have made a final request to the Texas court of appeals for a stay of execution. Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz has stated that he initially stood with the decision to put Lucio to death but now claims to support her pleas for clemency. While Melissa Lucio’s attorneys are skeptical of the district attorney’s support, they believe he could withdraw his request for an execution date. However, for now, Melissa Lucio, mom of 14, is standing to be the first Latina in Texas history to be put to death. 


·      Case: 16-70027 Document: 00515739449 Case document filed by yle W. Cayce Clerk 

·      Melissa Lucio: 9 Facts You Should Know About This Innocent Woman Facing Execution By Innocence Staff https://innocenceproject.org/melissa-lucio-9-facts-innocent-woman-facing-execution/

·      Case No. 07- CR- 885- B Certified Copy filed 8/1/08 by Aurora de la Graza Dist. Clerk 




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