death penalty news——TEXAS

July 11

TEXAS—-new female death sentence

Mother gets death penalty

A Harlingen woman is the 1st in Cameron County's history to be given the
death penalty.

After hearing almost 3 days of testminony, a jury gave Melissa Lucio the
death penalty for killing her 2-year-old daughter Mariah Alvarez.

The jury convicted the Harlingen mother last week and begain hearing
testimony for her sentecing on Monday.

The 12 jurors decided on Wednesday that Lucio should be given death by
lethal injection.

Defense attorneys tried to blame her past.

They said Lucio was physically and sexually abused as a child.

Lucio's family was sobbing during the final moments before she was
sentenced to death.

Her family left the courtroom in utter distraught.

Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos said jurors didn't buy
the defense's claims.

"I think the jury understood the seriousness of the abuse and based on
that, I think this is the only true verdict," Villalobos said.

This case began last year when Harlingen police found melissa lucio's 2
and a half year old daughter – mariah alvarez – unresponisve at the
families home.

Mariah was pronounced dead at the hospital soon after.

An autopsy revealed that the 2-year-old girl was killed by blunt trauma to
the head.

Child Protective Services said Lucio has 13 other children.

The Harlingen mother had been investigated for allegations of abuse and
neglect several times over the past 13 years.

"It was clear to us from the injures to her body and her behavior that
this was going on with more than one child," Villalobos said.

Lucio's live in boyfriend is awaiting trial.

He faces injury to a child charges.

Although investigators do not believe he participated in the abuse,
prosecutors said he did nothing to stop it.

State records show that there are only 9 other women on death row in

Jurors in Cameron County have sentenced 17 people to death.

Most have already been executed but there are only 3 people from Cameron
County sitting on death row.

(source: KGBT News)


Inmates plead not guilty to capital murder

2 inmates who escaped from the Texas Department of Criminal Justices Wynne
Unit and then killed a correctional officer in September 2007 pleaded
innocent Thursday to capital murder charges.

Jerry Duane Martin, 38, and John Ray Falk Jr., 41 indicted by a Walker
County grand jury in March and charged with the capital murder of officer
Susan Canfield of New Waverly entered their pleas in district court.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for both, Walker County Assistant
District Attorney Stephanie Stroud said.

Both inmates were chained at the waist and ankles and escorted by numerous
officers into the county courthouse.

They appeared separately during brief hearings Thursday.

Prosecutors said they planned to try the pair together and said they would
oppose defense efforts to move the trial outside Huntsville.

Martin and Falk were also indicted on 6 other charges stemming from their
escape that included a three-hour manhunt in and around Huntsville.

David Weeks, Walk-er County criminal district attorney, said Texas law
provides that a murder be-comes a capital offense if it occurs while
escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution.

Weeks said his office will make every effort to prevent a change of venue
for Martin and Falk.

The other offenses included two counts of attempted capital murder (first
degree felonies) for shooting at police officers who were in pursuit of
the offenders during the escape.

Martin and Falk also hijacked a truck and its occupant Madilene Loosier
during the pursuit, leading to charges of aggravated kidnapping (a first
degree felony, aggravated robbery (a first degree felony) and aggravated
assault (a second degree felony).

Weeks said the final charge of Interference with Police Service Animal (a
third degree felony) relates to the death of the TDCJ horse ridden by

The 2 inmates broke away from the correctional officers outside the Wynne
Unit on Farm-to-Market Road 2821 on Sept. 24, 2007.

Authorities say they stole a truck and rammed into her while she was on

The prisoners dumped the pickup about a mile away, then confronted a woman
in a bank drive-through and took her car. Huntsville police then shot out
a tire in that car and the inmates ran away.

Falk was apprehended within an hour. Martin was caught hiding in a tree
about 3 1/2 hours later. The next day, Martin unsuccessfully tried to hang
himself in his cell.

Martin had been locked up since 1997 with a 50-year term for attempted
murder. Falk was serving life for murder in 1986.

Canfield had been a corrections officer for seven years. Her horse was
shot in the gunfire and was euthanized.

According to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice report of the escape,
Martin jumped into a Huntsville city truck and rammed it into Canfield.

The horse threw the officer and she struck the trucks windshield before
crashing to the ground, causing her fatal head injuries.

The report also said events were set in motion when a supervisory officer
allowed Martin to improperly approach him after the prisoner asked that
the officer hold his broken watch. Falk created a noise that distracted
the officer and Martin got close enough to rush the guard and get his gun.

Martin threw the pistol to Falk, who aimed it at the officer as the two
inmates then climbed over a barbed wire fence where Canfield was on her
horse in a parking lot, according to the report.

Falk began firing at her and she and other officers returned fire. Falk
then stuck his gun in Canfields side and grabbed her rifle as Martin, who
had jumped into the truck, rammed Canfield.

The agency investigation found the staffing level of 9 officers, including
a sergeant, was proper for the 76-prisoner work detail.

The supervising officer was cited during a disciplinary hearing and
recommended for dismissal and subsequently resigned.

(source: Huntsville Item)