Celebrity Kim Kardashian has signed the petition to ask Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop the execution of Harlingen native Melissa Lucio.
“I recently just read about the case of Melissa Lucio and wanted to share her story with you. She has been on death row for over 14 years for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident,” Kardashian posted Monday night on Facebook. “Her 2-year old daughter Mariah fell down a flight of stairs and two days later passed away while taking a nap. After she called for help, she was taken into custody by the police. Melissa is a survivor of abuse and domestic violence herself and after being interrogated for hours and falsely pleaded guilty. She wanted the interrogation to end, but police made her words out to be a confession.”
Lucio, 53, is on death row for the February 2007 death of her 2-year-old daughter Mariah Alvarez. A Cameron County jury in 2008 found the mother guilty on one count of capital murder for causing the death of the child who had indications of having been beaten. Lucio denies killing her daughter.
Lucio’s execution date is scheduled for April 27, 2022.
“Please sign the petition to urge Governor Greg Abbott to stop her execution. It’s stories like Melissa’s that make me speak so loud about the death penalty in general and why it should be banned when innocent people are suffering.”
Kardashian’s name adds to a growing list of petitioners that include both Democratic and Republican legislators, Lucio’s family, and advocacy groups such as the Death Penalty Action and The Innocence Project that want Abbott to grant Lucio clemency or be given a new trial.
Tweets from Kardashian have had effect in the past. According to multiple news reports in 2021, the celebrity celebrated after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the sentence of death row inmate Julius Jones, reducing the sentence to life without parole. She had advocated for Jones through social media prior to the commutation, according to USA Today in November 2021.
Her voice is effective in death row fights. The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system, reported in July 2021 that “Everyone on death row gets a lawyer. Not everyone gets a Kim Kardashian”
“It’s stories like Melissa’s that make me speak so loud about the death penalty in general and why it should be banned when innocent people are suffering,” Kardashian wrote Tuesday night.
An application for clemency was filed March 22 on behalf of Lucio. According to attorneys representing Lucio, new evidence that the jury never heard indicates that Lucio was a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence and was wrongly convicted.
Support for Lucio has grown as petitioners and advocates urge Abbott to watch the documentary film “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” which is available to stream on Amazon Prime ($2.99 to rent, $8.99 to buy) and Hulu (subscription required).
The director of the film, French-American journalist Sabrina Van Tassel, said the evidence in the case which her investigation uncovered cast the entire judicial process in doubt.
“I have some words for you: Reasonable doubt,” Van Tassel told the Valley Morning Star in February. “Once you watch the film, once you study the case, there’s just so many questions marks in this case. So many things that went wrong. I often say that everything that could have gone wrong in Melissa’s case went wrong. Every single thing, and you are about to execute someone without any evidence really that she did it.
Death Penalty Action stated this week via email why the film is important to Lucio’s clemency efforts—and why petitioners are asking Abbott to watch the film.
“We believe that anyone who watches the film will come away from it with significant doubts about Melissa’s guilt, if they were not convinced of her innocence,” wrote Abe Bonowitz, director of Death Penalty Action on Monday. “That’s why the primary ask on our petition is for the Cameron County DA, the Governor, and the Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles to watch the film!”
Details of the clemency effort are available on the Free Melissa Lucio web page, http://freemelissalucio.org, and social media sites.
Reporters Rick Kelley and Laura B. Martinez contributed to this report