Capital punishment in the United States: outpouring of support from celebrities and lawmakers for a mother of 14 children sentenced to death

The impending execution of a mother of 14 childrensentenced to death for the murder of her two-year-old daughter in a controversial case, went on a rampage a wave of solidarity between personalities like Kim Kardashian who goes beyond the borders of the United States.

Melissa Lucio’s execution date is set for April 27 per the 2007 homicide of her two-year-old babyMariah, whose body was found in the family home covered in bruisesdays after he fell down the stairs.

Pregnant with twins at the time, this American of Mexican origin had a life marked by physical and sexual assault, substance abuse and economic instability. Police immediately suspected her of beating her daughter and interrogated her at length just hours after her death.


Melissa Lucio with two of her children in an image provided by Deputy Jeff Leach. Photo: AFP

dubious confession

After saying that “he hadn’t done it almost a hundred times”, at three in the morning made “completely extracted” confessionsaccording to Sabrina Van Tassel, director of the documentary “The State of Texas against Melissa”, which premiered in 2020.

“I think so,” he finally told officers who questioned him about the bruising.

This confession was ‘the only thing they had against him’said Van Tassel, convinced that “there is nothing that connects Melissa Lucio to the death of her daughter, there is no DNA, there are no witnesses”.

During the trial, a doctor said it was the “worst” case of child abuse that I saw.

Melissa Lucio and her baby.  photo: AFP

Melissa Lucio and her baby. photo: AFP

But a physical disability of Mariah which made her unsteady when she walked, and could explain her fall, was not taken into account by the experts, according to Lucio’s defense, which also argued that the bruises could have been caused by a disorder of blood circulation.

Prosecutor accused of extortion

None of Melissa’s children accused her of being violent. While the prosecutor was later sentenced to prison for bribery and extortion.

A documentary then triggered a solidarity movement in favor of Lucio.

Reality star Kim Kardashian, with tens of millions of followers, tweeted on Wednesday that there is “so many unanswered questions around the case and the evidence used to convict her.

Kim Kardashian tweeted that there is

Kim Kardashian tweeted that there were “so many unresolved questions surrounding the case”. Photo: AP

And Lucio’s story also fascinates the Latin American media, because he is the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texasthe US state that has executed the most people in the 21st century.

In France, former head-to-head candidate Christiane Taubira said Lucio is probably “victim of a miscarriage of justice”.

Moreover, one of the jurors who convicted her expressed his “deep regret” in an editorial published on Sunday.

Lucio even wins the support of American Republicans, traditional supporters of capital punishment.

About 80 Texas congressmen of both parties They asked the authorities to stay his execution.

Lucio is even gaining support among American Republicans.  Photo: AFP

Lucio is even gaining support among American Republicans. Photo: AFP

Several went to visit him in prison. “As a conservative Republican who has long supported the death penalty, I have never seen a more disturbing case than that of Melissa Lucio,” said one, Jeff Leach.

The inmate is “shocked” by the support movement, according to her son John Lucio.

“I couldn’t believe it” when he showed her messages from celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

the last 15 years were “very difficult”remembers this 32-year-old man, a teenager at the time of the tragedy and who had to “cope” with the death of his sister when he saw that his mother was “charged for it”.

But this year “has been the most difficult because we received the execution date in January“, explained John Lucio, who says he has always believed in his innocence.

He is convinced that his mother would never have been condemned “if i had the money”.

The case highlights the problem of false confessions. It is difficult to estimate their number, but according to data from the Innocence Project, which fights against miscarriages of justice, out of four people falsely convicted and exonerated thanks to DNA evidence, one had confessed to the crime.

In homicide cases, the figure rises to 60%, according to Saul Kassin, professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

And someone who, like Lucio, has experienced trauma and violence, is “less resistantmore likely to give in, have less tolerance for the stress of questioning,” and are therefore more likely to accept responsibility for a crime they did not commit, he said.

Lucio has exhausted his legal remediesbut his team filed a leniency request, which is usually resolved until a few days before the execution. Prosecutors could also withdraw the execution order and agree to reconsider the case, according to the Houston Chronicle.

And if all else fails, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has the power to delay death of Lucius.

The governor, a staunch proponent of capital punishment, granted clemency only to occasionally.

By Léa Dauple, AFP

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