Texas bishops call for mercy for mother facing execution

March 7, 2022

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops are asking the State of Texas to spare the life of Melissa Lucio, a mother of 14 and a grandmother, who is sentenced to die April 27.

Melissa Lucio was sentenced to die by a flawed process. With no evidence and no witnesses, she was convicted based on a coerced, passive admission of guilt, given after a rigorous interrogation the night her two-year-old daughter, Mariah, died after a fall down a staircase.

A broad coalition, including domestic violence and battered women’s organizations and former prosecutors, and others, has expressed support for Melissa’s innocence.

The TCCB statement follows:

“As the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, 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.

“Melissa has undertaken a spiritual journey while in prison. Her spiritual advisor, Deacon Ronnie Lastovica of the Diocese of Austin, reports how her heart is centered on Christ and how she has been accompanying others to a deeper faith.

“As bishops of the Texas Catholic Conference, we affirm the statement of our brother, Bishop Daniel Flores, who shepherds the Diocese of Brownsville, where the Lucio family lives. Bishop Flores states, ‘One tragedy is not somehow made better by killing someone else. 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.’

“Melissa’s case illustrates yet again why the Texas death penalty process cannot be trusted to provide justice to all. It is a deeply flawed process rife with human error and inconsistency.

“We continue to pray for everyone who has been touched by the tragic loss of Mariah’s life, especially for the suffering Melissa and her family have endured. We beseech 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.”

More information, including statements from Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville and Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, can be found here.