Texas bishops call for mercy for mother facing death penalty
Vatican News staff writer
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has asked the State of Texas to spare the life of Melissa Lucio, sentenced to death in 2008 for the death of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. Lucio claims Mariah died after a tragic fall down a staircase. The Bishops noted that Lucio was convicted on the basis of a forced confession following a rigorous interrogation the night her daughter died, in the absence of evidence or witnesses. Many other organizations are rallying around Melissa Lucio's case, including domestic violence and battered women’s organizations, and former prosecutors.
The bishops write: "We ask the state to commute Melissa Lucio’s sentence of death and re-examine the case to consider her history as a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, her troubling interrogation by law enforcement, and the lingering questions regarding the manner of her daughter Mariah’s death." They also note that she has undertaken a spiritual journey while in prison, "accompanying others to a deeper faith in Christ."
The bishops echo the words of Bishop Daniel Flores, who shepherds the Diocese of Brownsville, where the Lucio family lives. "One tragedy is not somehow made better by killing someone else," they say. "Justice is not suddenly restored because another person dies. Executing Melissa will not bring peace to her surviving children, it will only bring more pain and suffering." They add that this case again shows why the death penalty process in Texas "cannot be trusted to provide justice to all," since it is a deeply flawed process "rife with human error and inconsistency."
They conclude by offering their prayers for all affected by the tragic loss of Mariah's life, for her mother Melissa, and for her family, beseeching "the State of Texas to commute her death sentence and conduct a meaningful review of her case to enable this family to continue the hard work of restorative justice and healing.”