death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 9


Jury finds Lucio guilty of daughter's death

Melissa Elizabeth Lucio burst into tears Tuesday as a jury in 138th state
District Court found her guilty of the beating death of her 2-year-old

Lucio, 38, continued to sob as all 12 jurors were polled and individually
told Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson that they had voted to find the
Harlingen mother guilty of capital murder for killing Mariah Alvarez on
Feb. 17, 2007.

Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos said he will seek the
death penalty today when the punishment phase of the trial begins at 9

It was always the plan of his office to seek the death penalty against the
mother of 14 for battering her little girl to death, the district attorney

"When we started the case, that's why we had to go through three weeks of
(individual interviews of potential jurors)," Villalobos said, declining
to comment further.

During his final argument, lead defense attorney Peter Gilman said it is
not true that his client had confessed to a Texas Ranger that she had
beaten her daughter to death.

"They think they got a confession," Gilman said. "Nowhere in that
statement does it say, I killed my child.' … Three doctors testified
that she could have died from blunt force head trauma by falling down the

His client was grilled by police from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. after likely
rising at 6 a.m. the day before to take care of a house full of children,
Gilman said. She was not accompanied by a lawyer, he said.

"My client is not up for Mother of the Year. She's guilty of child abuse,"
Gilman said. "But they haven't proved she intentionally murdered her

His client told police she was told Mariah had fallen down a flight of
stairs about 24 hours before her death and described the exact symptoms
she would have suffered from hitting her head in a fall, Gilman said.

Lucio said she wasn't present when her daughter fell because the family
was moving from an apartment on Madison Avenue in Harlingen to another
apartment on Lee Street, Gilman said.

His client agreed to take a polygraph examination and police took samples
of her hair, fingernail clippings and a DNA mouth swab, Gilman said. But
none of those samples were tested, he said.

Lead prosecutor Alfredo Padilla urged the jury to ignore claims that
Mariah's death was caused by a fall down some stairs.

He asked the jury to review photos that showed her battered and bruised
body and to remember testimony by experienced doctors who called it the
worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.

Assistant DA Maria De Ford asked jurors to use their common sense and
review the long list of bruises, lacerations and even a broken arm that
Mariah suffered during the 88 days that she lived with her mother after
living for 2 years in foster care.

"It was no accident," she said of Mariah's death. "She beat her; she
stomped her; she threw her. … She pinched her little vagina. What kind
of mother does this?"

After the court session ended Tuesday, Sonia Chavez, Lucio's younger
sister, told a reporter that she found it was curious that the courtroom
was filled with Child Protective Service workers during the entire trial.

"When we were conducting the funeral (for Mariah), there were lots of CPS
people there," Chavez said. "Why were they all here and at the funeral
when there are so many children who need protection and families that need

Chavez also said that a Harlingen police detective was lying when he
testified that he had heard Lucio say during a cellular phone call that it
was she, not her husband, who killed Mariah.

"She was making that call to me," Chavez said. "(Lucio) never said those
things he said she did."

Lucio's husband, Robert Antonio Alvarez, 37, will stand trial separately
for injury to a child by omission, prosecutors said.

(source: Valley Morning Star)


Appeals court turns down condemned San Antonio man

A San Antonio gang member sent to death row for gunning down 2 people
outside a bar more than 14 years ago has lost a federal court appeal,
edging him closer to execution.

Frank Moore, 49, was tried twice for the 1994 slayings of Samuel Boyd, 23,
who was shot six times with a rifle, and Patrick Clark, 15, who was shot
five times. Evidence showed both victims were shot while they were sitting
in a car outside the Wheels of Joy Club.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out his conviction in 1998
because jurors were not allowed to consider lesser charges of voluntary
manslaughter and murder. Bexar County prosecutors retried Moore the
following year and a jury convicted him of capital murder and again
sentenced him to die.

It's that conviction and sentence the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld by refusing to grant what's known as a certificate of appealability
which would allow Moore's appeals to move forward.

Testimony showed Moore and his half-brother Tyron Parks got into a fight
with Boyd and Clark in the parking lot of the night club. Testimony from a
medical examiner said both victims were "acutely intoxicated." Defense
lawyers argued Clark had tried to run Moore down with the car.

In the appeal, Moore's lawyers argued prosecutors withheld evidence from
the owner of a security company who offered an affidavit that the
shootings could have been in self-defense, backing up Moore's claims.

But the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, in its ruling posted late Monday,
said the affidavit always was available to Moore and his lawyers, was not
new evidence, was "highly speculative," and "almost entirely consisted of
inadmissible hearsay, and, importantly, it was vague to boot, lacking any

The appeals court also rejected arguments that three references to Moore's
first trial made at the second trial were improper and should have
resulted in a mistrial and that his trial lawyers were ineffective because
they should have conducted a more thorough investigation.

Court documents show Moore belonged to a violent gang called the East
Terrace Gangsters and was a "sergeant-at-arms" for the Black Panthers,
responsible for obtaining, hiding and distributing weapons. The court file
also said while Moore was locked up, he took an active role in a race
riot, attacked a guard, had other incidents of violence and had been a
member of the Crips gang since he was 14.

During the punishment phase of his trial, prosecutors showed that just
before he was arrested three days after the Boyd and Clark slayings, Moore
was arrested for an unrelated crime and was found carrying a revolver in
his waistband, that he had previous convictions for negligent homicide,
attempted murder and drug possession and delivery. Less than a month
before the killings, he was arrested for selling crack cocaine to an
undercover officer.

Moore first went to prison in 1984, receiving five years for attempted
murder. He was released on mandatory supervision less than 2 years later,
was returned to prison as a violator within nine months, then was
discharged in 1989.

In 1991, he received an 8-year term for cocaine possession but was paroled
after just 4 months. He returned to prison in 5 months with a 20-year term
for delivery of cocaine but was paroled after serving just over 2 years.
The double slaying occurred about 10 weeks later.

(source: Associated Press)


No Capital Murder for Mexico Mom

Willacy County's District Attorney has written to Mexican authorities,
saying he will not present a death penalty prosecution against a Lyford
teenager accused of killing her newborn boy. 18-year-old Wendy Gill is
alleged to have smothered the infant moments after giving birth, alone, in
the bathroom of her family's home last June. However, Gill hasn't been
seen since she was indicted for capital murder three months ago. D-A Juan
Guerra says he wrote the letter in the event she fled across the border.
Mexico does not have a death sentence, and normally will not extradite a
suspect if they face the death penalty in another country.

(source: KURV News)

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