It surely isn’t every day that someone convicted of a capital crime wins bipartisan support in her quest for a possible new trial to see if the individual is truly guilty of the crime for which the state has leveled a charge.
Melissa Lucio is that rare case.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today blocked her scheduled execution in a move that has drawn widespread praise across the vast political landscape. Republicans and Democrats alike are hailing the CCA’s decision, given that the state’s highest criminal appellate court isn’t known as being “defendant-friendly” in its handling of these matters.
What’s more, one of the legislators most adamantly in Lucio’s corner happens to be a Republican from Plano, state Rep. Jeff Leach, who next year will become my state representative in the Texas Legislature. OK, that last part doesn’t mean a damn thing, other than my recognition of Leach’s possible impact on my life.
Leach told Lucio the court had granted her the stay, prompting her to cry out and, yes, to cry.
Why the stay?
A court convicted Lucio in 2008 of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah Alvarez, who had fallen down some stairs. The little girl went to sleep a couple of days later and never awoke.
Lucio’s trial reportedly was fraught with vague testimony from key witnesses. The defense team reportedly was denied access to information acquired by state prosecutors. Lucio, of course, denied harming her daughter.
The defendant has drawn support on both sides of the political aisle, an event I find to be remarkable, given the great divide that exists in this state, with liberals seen as “soft” on crime and conservatives seen as those who want to “throw the book” and everything else at criminal defendants.
Melissa Lucio’s execution halted by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals | The Texas Tribune
And so, does Lucio deserve a new trial? It looks as though there well could be enough doubt cast on her conviction to warrant a judicial do-over.
I mean, if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — inhabited entirely by Republican judges — thinks there is merit to those questions, then by all means let’s try this case again … and do it right!