DALLAS — A group gathered outside Dallas City Hall on Thursday, calling on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to free Texas death row inmate Melissa Lucio. On Friday, they gathered again for a press conference on the same topic.
Lucio is scheduled for execution April 27, 2022. She could be the first Latina to be executed in the State of Texas, according to lawmakers.
As time runs out, protests and pushes for clemency continue to ramp up across the state.
“Melissa Lucio’s story really highlights the injustices in our criminal justice system,” said State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado of Dallas on Thursday.
On Wednesday, seven Texas House representatives, including Neave Criado, met with Lucio at a correctional facility in Gatesville. They have serious doubts about the evidence and Lucio’s conviction.
“She’s been a lifetime survivor of domestic violence. A lifetime survivor of sexual abuse. The situation and facts of this case are so overwhelming pointing to her innocence,” said Neave Criado.
Lucio was convicted in the death of her daughter 15 years ago in Harlingen, in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
According to prosecutors, the 2-year-old had signs of abuse on her body. But family members claim her daughter's death was an accident, saying she fell down the stairs.
Lucio’s attorneys said their witnesses were not allowed to testify during trial, including an eyewitness who saw the fall.
Rep. Neave Criado released the following statement after the meeting with Lucio:
“Against the cold façade of Texas Death Row, Melissa Lucio sat with us, glowing and filled with hope, love for her family, and a profound faith that she will walk free one day. She stated that everyday is a struggle, but it is through God’s Grace that she is here, and she will not stop fighting for justice. In that room, hand in hand with Melissa Lucio, we were not Republicans or Democrats, we were citizens of humanity inspired to urgent action to help prevent an irreversible injustice. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met with Melissa Lucio today alongside my colleagues of the Texas House of Representatives: Rep. Jeff Leach, Rep. Joe Moody, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Toni Rose, Rep. James White, and Rep. Lacey Hull.”
Other Texas lawmakers have also weighed in, calling for a stay of execution.
"We're not saying Miss Lucio is innocent. We're not saying she's guilty. We're saying for the board to provide her some clemency, so we can get her into a trial," said State Rep. James White.
Lucio’s family members said they’re remaining optimistic as the April 27 execution date approaches.
“It’s less than a month. It’s less than a month. It’s scary,” said John Lucio, as he reflected over his mother’s pending execution.
He and his family are hoping the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will grant a reprieve or clemency.
“Knowing that we have supporters that support the death penalty fighting for my mother, is strong,” added John Lucio.
Another rally at Dallas City Hall was held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, with Neave Criado and John Lucio in attendance.
Watch Friday's rally here on WFAA's YouTube channel:
John Lucio choked back tears before he could even speak on Friday. He thanked Neave Criado and those who have supported his mother.
"I don't want my mom to be executed," John Lucio said with tears in his eyes. "I don't want to lose her."
Lucio's case has gained national attention in recent years.
While critics continue pointing to the evidence of abuse uncovered during the initial trial, supporters, including celebrities, are also taking interest in Lucio’s case and call for clemency.
Kim Kardashian has expressed her support for Lucio and has signed a petition urging Gov. Abbott to stop Lucio's execution.
“The real potential injustice here is that if we get to April 27, if she’s not given that opportunity, it’s going to be too late,” said Neave Criado.
Some state lawmakers and supporters are urging residents to write letters to the Gov. Abbott and to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, urging them to delay or cancel Lucio’s execution, as new evidence in the case surfaces.
WFAA sister station, KVUE, contributed to this report.