Family members and advocates are trying to bring awareness about Melissa Lucio, a Valley woman on death row who was convicted in 2008 of killing her 2-year-old daughter.
Lucio’s sister, Sonya Valencia, was among the dozens of others at a rally in Harlingen Sunday afternoon. The group is hoping to get Lucio off of death row and prove her innocence before Lucio’s execution date set for April 2022.
“She’s innocent,” Valencia said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in my sister’s innocence.”
The group is asking Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz and Gov. Greg Abbott to watch “The State of Texas vs. Melissa”, a 2020 documentary based on the case. Advocates say in the documentary, forensic experts detail how the murder of Lucio’s 2-year old-daughter, Mariah, did not take place.
In a statement to Channel 5 News, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz says in part, “Before I talk about the defendant, let me tell you about the victim, 2-year old Baby Mariah.”
According to the DA, on Feb. 17, 2007, paramedics arrived to an apartment and found an unattended child lying on her back on the ground with no pulse. Saenz goes on to say Mariah’s body showed signs of abuse, writing that the 2-year-old had bruises both new and old, bite marks and recoveries from a broken arm.
Read Saenz’s entire statement here.
Melissa’s sister says she doesn’t believe that Lucio caused this.
“Melissa would never hurt her kids,” Valencia said. “She was not violent. We all yell. She yelled a lot, ‘Melissa, sit down. Daniela, behave.’ Things like that. But she was never a violent mom.”
In July 2008, a Cameron County jury found Lucio guilty of capital murder, and she was sentenced to death. Last month, on January 14, the 138th District Court signed an April 27 execution date.
Valencia says everyone involved in Sunday’s rally will continue fighting for Melissa.
“I believe in my sister’s innocence,” Valencia said. “I’m going to fight for my sister until the very end, until she comes home. I’m going to keep fighting.”
According to Saenz, at least six appeals were filed for Lucio and they were all either dismissed or denied by the courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lucio is currently one of six women on Texas death row and one of eight people from the Valley facing execution.
Organizers and the family plan to meet outside the district attorney’s office house Monday at 10 a.m. for another rally.
The documentary “The State of Texas vs. Melissa” is available for streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime.