AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution for Melissa Lucio Monday just two days before her set execution date. The stay allows a lower court to hear Lucio and her lawyers’ claims that new evidence would exonerate her, according to the Associated Press.
Lucio was convicted of killing her 2-year-old in Harlingen 15 years ago. Advocates from all aspects of life have come to Lucio’s defense as the day of her potential execution moved closer.
Supporters held rallies across Texas cities over the weekend. A group of Texas lawmakers visited the death row inmate in early April.
State Rep. Jeff Leach was one of those lawmakers working to stop the execution amid doubt about whether Lucio fatally beat her daughter. He released this statement Monday on the court’s decision.
“Melissa’s case is the most troubling I have ever seen. The system literally failed her at every turn. Thankfully, the Court of Criminal Appeals, pushed the pause button on her execution, saving the State of Texas from the irreversible blunder of potentially killing an innocent citizen. Going forward, Melissa should be afforded a new day in court and a fair trial, including all of the Constitutional protections designed to safeguard the fundamental liberties and freedoms of each and every Texas citizen,” Leach said.
Leach called Lucio Monday to share the news. Lucio wasn’t aware of the court’s decision before the conversation. KXAN has obtained the phone call. The transcript of the conversation is below.
Phone call between Melissa Lucio and Jeff Leach
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Leach: Hello, Melissa. Yes. Hey, this is Jeff Leach.
Lucio: Yes, sir. How are you today?
Leach: I’m doing fine. How are you? Have you heard the news?
Lucio: No, what?
Leach: You haven’t heard the news yet.
Lucio: No, what happened?
Leach: The Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of your execution for Wednesday.
Lucio: Are you serious? Are you serious? When did this happen?
Leach: We just got word about 15 minutes ago.
Lucio: Oh my God, that is wonderful. What does that mean?
Leach: Well, it means that you’re going to wake up on Thursday morning.
Lucio: Oh my goodness. Oh, thank you, God.
Leach: You’re not you’re not making the trip to Huntsville on Wednesday. The order was very strong in that it appears that you’re going to get a new trial at the very least.
Lucio: That is so wonderful. Thank you so much.
Leach: Well, Melissa, I love you to death. There’s a lot of really great people who’ve been working on this on your behalf. And just I would say, millions who’ve been praying for you, you know that. And it’s been an honor to fight for you and believe so strongly in your cause. And, of course, remember Mariah today, and I know you do as well. But this isn’t the end. And we’re going to continue to work together to make sure that the right thing is done and that hopefully, ultimately you’re free. That’s the goal.
Lucio: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Monica Madden contributed to this story.