A mother who was sentenced to death for killing her two-year-old daughter didn’t receive a fair trial, the Fifth Circuit said.
Paramedics were called to Melissa Lucio’s house because her daughter, Mariah, wasn’t breathing. Melissa said Mariah had fallen down the stairs, and doctors determined a blow to her head killed her.
Mariah’s body showed signs of severe abuse, and police officers questioned Melissa for five hours about the bruises. After 3:00 a.m., Melissa admitted spanking Mariah, but not hitting her in the head.
A tape of Melissa’s interrogation was admitted into evidence at her trial.
But the trial court ...