Melissa Lucio
Melissa Lucio AFP

A district judge recommended that the conviction of Melissa Lucio, sentenced to death for the death of her two-year-old child, be overturned.

Judge Arturo Nelson issued the statement after a district attorney's office admitted that prosecutors withheld evidence from her defense.

Lucio was convicted in 2008 by a jury for the death of Mariah Alvarez, who died in the hospital after being found unresponsive in her bedroom.

She was found with bruises, scratches and an apparent bite mark, which led police to believe the toddler had been killed. The death was determined to be a cause of blunt-force head injury.

For over 15 years she has been living in death row, the case against her based on a confession police obtained after hours of interrogation, in which Lucio said she had abused her daughter.

However, she later recanted that admission. Further interviews with five of her children after the death added that Lucio was not abusive to them or Mariah.

One of the children said they witnessed Mariah fall down a flight of stairs and corroborated the mother's account regarding her deteriorating health during the days following the incident.

It was recently found that prosecutors didn't share the interviews in full with the defense during the trial, something that Lucio's lawyers and the Cameron County district attorney say it was a violation of her due process rights. They claim that this entitles her to relief from her death sentence.

"Judge Nelson found that critical information was withheld from the defense at the time of trial and that Lucio 'met her burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she would not have been convicted in light of the suppressed evidence,' said attorneys for Lucio in response to the recommendations, according to The Innocence Project.

Her execution was already delayed in 2022 due to doubts surrounding the evidence. More than half of Texas' House of Representatives asked the parole board to do so.

The case will now move to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will consider judge Nelson's recommendation. Lucio does not have a current execution date but remains incarcerated.

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