A Texas appeals court on Monday delayed the execution of a woman amid growing doubts about whether she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter in a case that has garnered the support of lawmakers, celebrities, and even some of the jurors who sentenced her to death.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a request by Melissa Lucio’s lawyers for a stay of execution so a lower court can review her claims that new evidence would exonerate her. It was not immediately known when the lower court would begin reviewing her case.
Lucio had been set for lethal injection on Wednesday for the 2007 death of her daughter Mariah.
Melissa Lucio has spent the last 15 years on death row after she was convicted of capital murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter.
Many family members and supporters spent weeks traveling around the state, asking Texans to watch a documentary about the case, which outlines some of their concerns with the Harlingen mother’s prosecution.
Lucio’s family says that Mariah fell down a rickety flight of stairs outside their Harlingen apartment in 2007 while the family was in the process of moving. Two days later, she died in her sleep.
The Cameron County medical examiner ruled Mariah’s death a homicide, stating that the bruising on Mariah’s body was the worst case of child abuse she had ever seen. On the night of Mariah’s death, Lucio, who was pregnant with twins, was questioned by investigators for a prolonged period. Her lawyers say police coerced her to give a false confession and her conduct during the interrogation was unjustly used to build a case against her.