On April 5, 2024, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz and Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin released a joint statement regarding Melissa Lucio’s case, which has been pending additional review for almost two years. On January 11, 2023, the parties submitted an Agreed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law stating that the defense was not given access to favorable information in the prosecution’s possession at trial, an error that they agree should entitle Ms. Lucio to a new trial. “Under Texas procedure the trial court must make a recommendation to the CCA which is the only court that can vacate a conviction,” explained the statement. “We are hopeful that Melissa’s case will be resolved.”

Ms. Lucio’s son John and his wife Michelle also issued a statement. “We are grateful to District Attorney Saenz for recognizing that evidence that our baby sister Mariah’s death was an accident, not a murder, was never presented to the jury. We are also thankful to Melissa’s legal team. We hope and pray that our mother can soon come home to her family.”

Ms. Lucio was sentenced to death in 2008 after prosecutors alleged that she beat her two-year-old daughter to death. Ms. Lucio’s lawyers recently presented expert opinion that her daughter Mariah was not murdered at all, but likely died from head trauma following an accidental fall two days prior to her death. Ms. Lucio, who was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused from a young age, has been diagnosed with PTSD, “battered woman syndrome” (intimate partner violence), and depression. She also has intellectual impairments, all of which, forensic and domestic abuse experts agree, made her more vulnerable to coercive interrogation techniques. After five hours of aggressive questioning by police on the night of Mariah’s death, Ms. Lucio acquiesced to police pressure, saying, “I guess I did it.”  
Ms. Lucio’s case has garnered widespread attention and support. In February 2022, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures asking the state to refrain from execution until her case is reviewed and to ensure detention conditions align with international human rights standards. In March 2022, 81 members of the Texas House of Representatives, led by Republican Representative Jeff Leach, signed a letter calling on Governor Greg Abbott and the pardons board to grant her clemency. Before the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole could vote on the matter, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) granted Ms. Lucio a stay of execution just days prior to her April 27, 2022 execution date. The TCCA highlighted four issues for the trial court to review: whether prosecutors obtained her conviction using false testimony, whether the jury’s exposure to previously unavailable scientific evidence would have resulted in her acquittal, whether she is actually innocent, and whether prosecutors suppressed favorable evidence that was material to the outcome of her trial. The fourth question, answered in the affirmative, was the subject of the January 2023 joint filing.