#FreeMelissaLucio: Innocent Woman on Death Row in Texas

Cameron County DA Luis Saenz

UPDATE: December 31, 2022 - We received the following from Melissa. No further action is required from us at this time, and signatures on this petition will not be delivered. HOWEVER, if you add your name today, we will be able to let you know when there is a positive development that we may share. This will also be a list to which we will be able to share future messages from Melissa and/or her family.


More soon!

Two days before her April 27, 2022 execution date, Melissa Lucio received a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ordered the 138th Judicial District Court in Brownsville to consider new evidence in the case. Details are below. (Scroll down for operative petition language.)

It's Not Good Enough. FREE HER NOW!

This petition asks Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz (pronounced Sa-Enz) to immediately return Mellisa Lucio to Cameron County, drop the charges, and free her NOW.

Visit FreeMelissaLucio.org for additional information and action opportunities.

BACKGROUND (Previous to April 25, 2022):

Melissa Lucio has spent nearly 15 years on death row for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. In 2008, Lucio became the first Latina woman sentenced to death in Texas.

On Monday, October 18, 2021, the US Supreme Court DECLINED to consider this case. Melissa is now scheduled to be executed on April 27, 2022.

In July, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February, 2021, a sharply divided court of appeals reversed the 2019 grant of relief by a vote of 10 to 7.

Melissa's life now depends on a decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. This petition will be delivered in advance of Melissa's clemency hearing, which has not yet been set. In the petition we are urging the addressees to take the unusual step of watching an award-winning new documentary which sheds light on the controversy of her conviction, revealing a case with no investigation, a coerced confession, an incomplete defense, and a corrupt DA.

The State of Texas vs. Melissa, a 2020 documentary by Sabrina Van Tassel, highlights many of the concerning facts around Lucio’s case, including the following:
  • Lucio’s lawyers have contested the cause of death, presenting expert testimony from a neurosurgeon that Mariah may instead have died from head trauma caused by falling down a flight of stairs - fall that was witnessed by Melissa’s children.
  • Lucio’s original lawyer did not call any of her children as witnesses, including the ones who saw Mariah fall down the stairs. What’s more, he willingly ignored evidence that another child had admitted being abusive to Mariah. Right after the trial, he became a Cameron County prosecutor, and he remains employed there as a prosecutor.
  • Raw footage shows the interrogation, which lasted almost seven hours on the night of Mariah’s death, to be clearly coercive.
  • Dr. John Pinkerman, a psychologist, and Norma Villanueva, a mitigation specialist, hoped to testify that Lucio was susceptible to making a false confession during a coercive investigation. They were both barred by the trial court from testifying as to her innocence at the guilt/innocence phase of her trial.
  • Armando Villalobos, the district attorney who prosecuted Lucio’s case, was convicted of bribery and extortion in 2014 for accepting over $100,000 in exchange for favorable outcomes in criminal trials. He is now serving a 13 year sentence in prison. He was known to bribe judges and lawyers and was suspected of using Melissa’s case to be re-elected.


For more information on Lucio’s case:

Documentary Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wn4J8lQcNc

Watch The State of Texas vs. Melissa, Free! (limited time special engagement.)




Petitions will be delivered on your behalf at appropriate moments in the coming weeks, and in advance of Melissa's clemency hearing.

Additionally, you may also contact the Board at bpp_clemency@tdcj.texas.gov and the Governor at https://gov.texas.gov/contact/ and (512) 463-1782. You can simply leave a voice message, or choose to speak to a representative if you prefer.

Please note: In Texas, the Governor has limited power when it comes to the death penalty. But the story we are told that "it's out of the governor's hands," is only true if we allow it to be. Yes, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles must recommend clemency in that state in order for the Governor to grant clemency (mercy) by commuting a death sentence. But the fact is that the governor appoints the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. He can choose to appoint members who will take valid claims and concerns more seriously, instead of acting like rubber-stamping gate-keepers. He can still use his position of power and influence to enact justice in the State of Texas.  

Sponsored by

To: Cameron County DA Luis Saenz
From: Michael Koch

We are writing to ask that you to return Melissa Lucio to Cameron County, drop the charges against her, and FREE HER IMMEDIATELY.