death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 12

TEXAS—-new female death sentence

Mom gets death penalty for daughter's slaying

A South Texas mother convicted of torturing and beating to death her 2
1/2-year-old daughter has been sentenced to die.

Melissa Elizabeth Lucio, 39, of Harlingen will become the 10th woman on
death row in Texas. She was sentenced by a jury Thursday and is believed
to be the first female given the death penalty in Cameron County.

Witnesses in the 2-week trial testified that Mariah Alvarez was beaten and
tortured for months before dying from brain damage in a final violent
assault last year.

"I honestly think justice was done," said District Attorney Armando

He said jurors made the right call in spite of living in a largely
Catholic community that borders Mexico, which doesn't allow the death
penalty. The Catholic Church generally opposes capital punishment.

Lucio wept when witnesses spoke of the brutality the toddler endured, but
she showed no emotion when her sentence was read.

Defense attorneys argued that Lucio was poor and suffered from "battered
women's syndrome," but Villalobos said they didn't present proof that she
was a victim of domestic violence. Regardless, he praised the jury for
dismissing that as a plausible reason for her child's death.

In their deliberations, jurors had to decide whether there was a chance
Lucio would commit criminal and violent acts that would make her a
continuing threat to society and whether life in prison without parole was
an option. By choosing the death penalty, the jury sent a message that
Cameron County was family friendly and wouldn't tolerate violent crimes,
Villalobos said.

For failing to prevent the beatings that resulted in Mariah's death,
Lucio's live-in boyfriend will go on trial Aug. 4. Roberto Antonio Alvarez
faces a charge of injury to a child by omission and could face up to life
in prison if convicted.

(source: Associated Press)


NZ lawyer backs death row inmate

A high-profile Auckland lawyer is leading the fight to save a Texas
death-row inmate facing execution by lethal injection.

Lawyer Colin Amery intends to head to the United States later this year
for the crucial final appeal of convicted murderer Charles Flores.

Flores, who has spent 9 years on death row, was found guilty of murdering
a 64-year-old woman during a botched burglary and faces death by lethal

Amery took an interest in the case after reading Flores' book, Warrior
Within, and the pair have exchanged letters. He has sold dozens of copies
of the book, with proceeds going towards Flores' appeal.

After reviewing the case, Amery is convinced of Flores' innocence and has
been in contact with his New York lawyer and a Texas senator trying to
help the 29-year-old clear his name. " I strongly believe in his innocence
and will do whatever I can to help," Amery said.

"I feel this is an important fight. There are definite flaws in the case
and a lot of corrupt practices have gone on."

Amery is probably best known for his private prosecution of Rainbow
Warrior saboteurs Allan Marfart and Dominique Prieur.

Flores argues he was not properly represented at his original trial, with
the prosecution case relying largely on flawed evidence and jailhouse

The chief witness against Flores had to undergo hypnosis to recall the
events on the night of the murder.

Alibi witnesses, who could have proven Flores' whereabouts, weren't called
at the trial, Amery said. Following his conviction, no mitigating evidence
was produced to show why he should not receive a death sentence.

Amery says Flores has shown amazing courage as he battles to clear his
name. "I just hope I can do something to help this chap. He may have been
into drugs, but he is definitely not a murderer – he is a decent man."

(source: New Zealand Herald)