As the days, hours and minutes tick down to the scheduled execution of Melissa Lucio, her mother – true to her own name – still holds on to hope. “She’s coming home,” Esperanza “Hope” Correa Treviño, said. “I told her she was coming home.”
Lucio, a mother of 14, is on death row for the 2007 murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. New evidence suggests the death may have been an accident – and today, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is expected to make its recommendation on the case, which it will forward to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The board could recommend commuting Lucio’s sentence, grant a 120-day reprieve to give more time for the courts to decide Lucio’s fate or uphold Wednesday’s execution.
If the date does stand, Lucio will be the first Latina executed in Texas.
Treviño told CBS News correspondent Lilia Luciano, “I have children, and they hurt. It hurts for me to lose one of my children.”
In 2007, Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter Mariah died. Detectives, and an autopsy, settled on child abuse as the cause, and Lucio as the culprit. But new evidence from forensic experts suggests the bruises were consistent with a brain injury from an accidental fall down steep stairs two days earlier, as Lucio and some of her children told officers and child protective services.
But jurors never heard from them. What they did hear was what testimony experts now consider a coerced confession. Lucio was convicted and sentenced to death.
In an unprecedented move, a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 Texas legislators has come together to reach a clear consensus: Lucio should get a new trial.
Republican State Representative Jeff Leach said, “If this execution is allowed to go forward, I believe it would severely weaken our criminal justice system. And we’re doing everything we can to lock arms and try to prevent that from happening.”
Democratic State Representative Joe Moody added, “We need to push the pause button, and let’s get this case right.”
Lawmakers have implored Luis Saenz, the Democratic district attorney of Cameron County, to step in. On April 12, they asked what he needed in order to make a decision about issuing a stay in Lucio’s execution date. His reply: “At this point it’s not my decision; it’s the court’s decision to make.”
Lucio’s defense has filed four requests to stay the execution; Saenz has never intervened.
He has declined to speak with CBS News.
Lucio’s conviction, and now her looming execution, continue to take a toll on the family. Lucio’s sister, Sonya Alvarez, said, “It’s very stressful. Sometimes I just want to put myself in a hole and I don’t want to know nothing. But, it’s reality.”
While Lucio has faith someone will intervene, even her mother’s hope is being tested: “She’s very hopeful,” Treviño told Luciano.
“Well, sometimes I am. And sometimes I’m not,” said Treviño. “The D.A., he’s got children of his own. I don’t think he’d like that to happen to his kids.”