Texas Death Row Inmate Melissa Lucio Learns Execution Halted

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Melissa Lucio on Monday, April 25, only two days before she was scheduled to be put to death.

In 2008, Lucio was convicted of killing her two-year-old daughter Mariah, who authorities claimed Lucio had beaten, causing injuries that led to the toddler’s death. Lucio maintains that her daughter fell down a set of stairs prior to dying.

As Lucio’s April 27 execution date neared, her case drew attention across Texas. Citing what they called weak evidence and law enforcement failings, a bipartisan group of legislators organized to push for a reprieve. Five of the jurors in the case supported Lucio’s application for clemency.

On Monday, State Rep Jeff Leach was the first to tell Lucio that the court had issued a stay in her case, sending the case back to the local court that convicted her. His office provided Storyful with a recording of the call. After relaying the news, Lucio exclaims “are you serious” and begins to cry. “Oh my God!” she says. “That is wonderful, Oh my God, what does that mean?”

“Well, it means you are going to wake up on Thursday morning,” said Leach. Credit: Rep Jeff Leach via Storyful

Video transcript

[INAUDIBLE]

JEFF LEACH: Hey, Warden. This is State Representative Jeff Leach.

WARDEN: OK, hold on. Just extend it maybe get closer. I think we lost signal. Hold on, just a second.

MELISSA LUCIO: Hello?

JEFF LEACH: Melissa?

MELISSA LUCIO: Yes?

JEFF LEACH: Hey, this is Jeff Leach.

MELISSA LUCIO: Yes, sir?

JEFF LEACH: How are you today?

MELISSA LUCIO: I'm doing fine. How are you?

JEFF LEACH: Good. Have you heard the news?

MELISSA LUCIO: No, what?

JEFF LEACH: You haven't heard the news yet?

MELISSA LUCIO: No, what happened?

JEFF LEACH: The Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of your execution for Wednesday.

MELISSA LUCIO: Are you serious? [CRYING] Why this is happening?

JEFF LEACH: We just got word about 15 minutes ago.

MELISSA LUCIO: Oh my God! [CRYING] That is [INAUDIBLE] Oh my God! What does that mean?

[LAUGHTER]

JEFF LEACH: Well-- well, it means-- it means you're going to wake up on Thursday morning--

MELISSA LUCIO: Oh my goodness!

JEFF LEACH: --and--

MELISSA LUCIO: Oh, thank you God.

JEFF LEACH: --you're not making the trip to Huntsville on Wednesday, and the order was very strong and that you're going to it appears that you're going to get a new trial at the very least. They--

MELISSA LUCIO: Oh my goodness. That is so wonderful. Thank you so much. That is great. Thank you so much, Mr. Leach.

JEFF LEACH: Well Melissa, I love you to death. There's a lot of really great people who've been working on this your behalf and just I would say--

MELISSA LUCIO: Thank you.

JEFF LEACH: --millions who've been praying for you. You know that, and--

MELISSA LUCIO: Thank you.

JEFF LEACH: --it's been an honor to fight for you and believe so strongly in your cause and of course remember Mariah today, and I know you do as well. But this isn't the end. And we're going to continue to work together to make sure that the right thing is done, and that hopefully ultimately you're free. That's the goal.

MELISSA LUCIO: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

JEFF LEACH: All right, I'm going to come see you soon maybe later this week or next week, I'll drop in and come see you.

MELISSA LUCIO: All right, I'll be waiting for you.

JEFF LEACH: OK.

MELISSA LUCIO: Thank you so much.

JEFF LEACH: Love you Melissa. Have a good day.

MELISSA LUCIO: I love you, too.

JEFF LEACH: All right.

MELISSA LUCIO: Thank you.

JEFF LEACH: All right, bye bye.

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