The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday stayed the execution of Melissa Lucio, who was convicted of murder in 2008 for the death of her 2-year-old daughter. But doubts about her guilt moved the court to suspend her sentence while it considers new evidence.
Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube, a defense attorney from Houston, spoke to the Texas Standard about why the stay was issued and what will happen next in the case.
Highlights from this interview:
– Lucio’s lawyers raised a couple of issues for the Court of Criminal Appeals to consider, including new science they argued demonstrates her innocence. They also pointed out several factors that indicate Lucio might have given a false confession after many hours of police interviews.
– At the time of Lucio’s trial, DeBorde Hochglaube says, there was testimony that her daughter’s injuries could not have been caused by anything other than abuse. But science now indicates it’s possible the injuries could have been caused by a fall down the stairs.
– Now the case goes back to the Cameron County court where it was first tried. After testimony and cross-examination of witnesses, the judge will make a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals about whether Lucio should receive a new trial in front of new jurors.