June 27, 2022

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5 things to know about death row case

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Texas death row inmate Melissa Lucio is set to be executed on April 27.  In 2008, She was convicted of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah Alvarez. Here are 5 things to know about Melissa Lucio’s execution, her capital murder case, death row statistics and more.

If Lucio is executed on April 27, she would become the first Hispanic woman executed in Texas and the first woman on Texas death row to be executed since 2014.

Texas leads the nation in the number of executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to data on the TDCJ website. 


According to TDCJ’s Death Row Facts page, the average length of time spent on death row prior to execution is 11 years, the shortest time on death row prior to execution was 252 days and the longest time spent on death row before an execution was 31 years. The average age of inmates executed is 39 and the youngest man executed was at age 24.

  • Information about prosecuting district attorney

Lucio’s case was held in Cameron County. During Lucio’s trial, Cameron County, District Attorney, Armando Villalobos, was seeking re-election and came under scrutiny for failing to thoroughly investigate or prosecute more than 100 previous allegations of child abuse, stated a report from The Innocence Project. 

After the capital murder trial of Lucio, the former D.A. was convicted for his role in a bribery and extortion scheme and is now serving a 13-year sentence in federal prison. 

“Evidence presented at trial revealed that from October 2, 2006, through May 3, 2012, Villalobos and others were involved in a scheme to illegally generate income for themselves and others through a pattern of bribery and extortion, favoritism, improper influence, personal self-enrichment, self-dealing, concealment and conflict of interest,” a portion of the press release from the U.S. Department of Justice states. 

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  • Details involving Lucio’s confession 

A report from the Texas Tribune stated that Lucio denied accusations and maintained her innocence for three hours and near the fifth hour of interrogation, Lucio confessed to the murder. Lucio has since maintained her innocence for the past 14 years while on death row. 

According to the report, after about three hours of denying accusations from multiple police investigators, Lucio began to agree with Texas Ranger Victor Escalon.

“For about two more hours, Lucio conceded to Escalon,” the report states. “She said she guessed she spanked Mariah out of frustration, a word police repeatedly suggested to her. She strongly denied responsibility for what Escalon believed was a pinch mark on Mariah’s vulva, but the Ranger insisted she ‘get it over with.'”

Attorneys in the Lucio case argue she was coerced into giving a false confession with a lack of evidence that supported the crime and capital murder conviction. 

Three humanitarian grants of clemency have been offered by Texas governors. This includes clemency granted to Henry Lee Lucas in 1998 by Gov. George W Bush, clemency granted to Kenneth Foster in 2008 by Gov. Rick Perry and clemency granted to Thomas Whitaker in 2018 by Gov. Greg Abbott, according to Robert Dunham, Executive Director with deathpenalty.org. 

“The humanitarian grants of clemency does not include what we call ‘administrative clemencies,’ such as when Texas governors commuted groups of prisoners who became ineligible for the death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to use capital punishment against juvenile offenders,” Dunham explained via email. 

  • Execution and lethal injection drugs
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Lucio’s execution date will include execution by lethal injection from the 13 doses, according to the lethal injection report published by the Texas Tribune. According to a Texas Tribune page tracking TDCJ lethal injection inventories, a total of 13 doses have been issued to the TDCJ and 11 of the 13 doses in stock have expiration dates that have been extended.

“Texas has been able to keep an adequate supply on hand, but part of that is because the state has repeatedly extended the expiration date of doses in stock — retesting the potency levels as the expiration date nears and then relabeling them,” the report states.

“The practice has drawn sharp criticism from death penalty defense attorneys, who say the old drugs are causing painful executions,” the report continued.

  • Kim Kardashian recently tweeted support for Lucio’s clemency efforts

Lucio’s case has inspired protests and a petition urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to offer clemency to the 53-year-old. Kim Kardashian recently used her social media platform to support Lucio’s clemency efforts.

Kardashian has also spoken out in support of criminal justice reform in Texas in Bastrop County with the death row case of Rodney Reed, according to a 2021 report from The Innocence Project. Kardashian also took action to support a case in Tennessee involving the Alice Marie Johnson case. Johnson was serving a life sentence on drug charges in Memphis. The 63-year-old was ultimately released from prison in 2018.



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