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Melissa Lucio has been on death row in Texas since 2008 for the alleged murder of her two-year-old daughter, Mariah. As a victim of repeated sexual abuse and domestic violence, Melissa suffers from dissociation and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When the police interrogated Melissa about the death of her daughter, she insisted that she did not kill Mariah. They badgered her, pushing her to accept that she was responsible for Mariah's death. Texas Ranger Victor Escalon interrogated her until 3 a.m., until, after five hours, Melissa acquiesced and said, “I guess I did it.”​ The tactics used by Melissa’s interrogators were roundly condemned in a brief filed by the Innocence Project and Innocence Network in support of Melissa. They confirm that the tactics used by Escalon and other detectives ran the risk of eliciting a false confession. Additionally, Lucio's lawyers have contested Mariah's cause of death, presenting expert testimony from a neurosurgeon that Mariah may instead have died from head trauma caused by falling down a flight of stairs, a fall that was witnessed by Melissa's children. ​The district attorney who prosecuted Lucio's case was convicted of bribery and extortion in 2014. He is now serving a 13 year sentence in prison, and was suspected of using Melissa's case to be re-elected. In July, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas court ruling and found Lucio’s right to a “complete defense” had been violated in her original trial. In February, 2021, a sharply divided court of appeals reversed the 2019 grant of relief by a vote of 10 to 7 and her hopes for exoneration are now in the U.S. Supreme Court. Melissa is in danger of receiving an execution date in the near future.


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