In 2007, Melissa Lucio, a Mexican American mother in Texas, sat in a room with five police officers who believed she’d killed her two-year-old daughter, Mariah, at her apartment. The Cameron County officers tried to force a confession: In an interrogation that lasted five hours, they put their faces within inches of hers, screaming that they had evidence she’d beaten the girl. They demanded that she look at photographs of Mariah’s lifeless body.
Lucio, still in shock, told the cops more than 100 times that she was not guilty. Her daughter hurt herself in an accidental fall, she said. But after hours of relentless interrogation, exhausted and unable to cope, Lucio gave in, repeating phrases that the officers had hammered into her head: “I don’t know what you want me to say,” she told them in the early hours of morning. “I’m responsible for it…I guess I did it.” The coerced confession became the primary evidence used to convict her, and she was soon sent to death row, where she has since continued to claim her innocence.
Nearly half of the jurors who sentenced a Texas woman to die for the 2007 death of one of her 14 children have called for her upcoming execution to be halted and for her to get a new trial.
Melissa Lucio, 52, is set to be executed Wednesday for the death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah in Harlingen, a city of about 75,000 in Texas’ southern tip.
Her lawyers say new evidence shows that Mariah’s injuries, including a blow to the head, were caused by a fall down a steep staircase, and many lawmakers and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, an advocate for criminal justice reform, and Amanda Knox — an American who was convicted of murdering a British student in Italy and whose conviction was overturned — have rallied to Lucio’s cause. Prosecutors, though, maintain that the girl was the victim of child abuse.