Most of us have probably heard of Melissa Lucio’s case, even though many may not immediately recognize her name.
Sentenced to death in Texas for what many say was the accidental death of her toddler after a coerced confession, her case has captivated many.
Kim Kardashian’s interest in justice reform and the legal system is especially well-known.
After Lucio was granted a stay of execution, Kim took to social media to celebrate the small victory.
"Best news ever!" Kim Kardashian tweeted, linking to an article covering the news.
"Melissa Lucio has been on death row for over 14 years," Kim explained, "for her daughter’s death that was a tragic accident."
Kim continued: "She is getting a hearing on her claims for her case & has been granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals."
If you want to understand Melissa’s story, there’s more to it than the unenviable title of being the first Latine woman sentenced to death in Texas.
Her family background is such that official sources and relatives disagree over what year she was born — the former saying 1968, the latter saying 1969.
What no one disputes is the hardships of her life, beginning with years of childhood sexual abuse followed by becoming a child bride as a teen to an abusive husband.
Obviously, none of that — in fact, nothing whatsoever — could excuse someone going on to abuse a child as an adult, let alone fatally.
But advocates bring up Melissa’s horrific backstory because abuse can and does make people more likely to try to give interrogators what they want — a confession.
Combined with the scientifically unsound and ethically dubious tactics employed during police interrogations that make false confessions an epidemic, and people believe that Melissa was coerced.
In 2007, Melissa’s 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, did not wake up one morning. She was unresponsive and not breathing.
Paramedics were called to the house, who reported signs of possible abuse on Mariah — including a broken arm and multiple bruises.
Melissa stated that Mariah had fallen down the stairs two days earier, accounting for her injuries. One of her sons later confirmed having witnessed the fall.
Sometimes, even in the case of adults, what appears to be merely a painful injury can result in brain trauma, organ damage, and even death some time later.
Advocates for Melissa Lucio believe that this explains Mariah’s passing.
However, investigators, including the initial medical examiner — whose findings have been debunked by other pathologists — seemed to immediately identify Melissa as the culprit.
With this in mind, she was subjected to hours of interrogation, with investigators assuring her that they "already" knew what had happened.
Melissa denied having killed or abused her daughter more than 100 times during her questioning.
Eventually, however, she told investigators "I guess I did it" in what criminal justice reform advocates say is a classic example of a coerced confession from someone traumatized and exhausted.
We can’t say with certainty whether Melissa is innocent, culpable, or somewhere in between when it comes to her daughter’s death.
Numerous experts from virtually every relevant field — legal, medical, and behavioral — have weighed in, however, condemning the investigation, prosecution, and sentencing.
Texas politicians on both sides of the aisle have called the imminent execution of Melissa a "miscarriage of justice."
Kim is calling on Texas Governor Abbott to grant clemency to Melissa Lucio.
Her current stay of execution is a temporary situation, which means putting the ball in his court.
Counting on Greg Abbott to do the right thing is a difficult prospect, but that is how the system works.