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The Texas Republican spearheading a rare bipartisan effort to delay Wednesday’s execution of a Mexican American girl amid mounting proof of her innocence has described the case as “probably the most troubling I’ve ever seen, presumably probably the most troubling within the historical past of our state”.

In an interview with the Guardian, Jeff Leach, a Republican member of the Texas Home of Representatives, stated that even sturdy supporters of the demise penalty – as he as soon as thought of himself – had nice concern concerning the quickly approaching execution. Melissa Lucio, 52, is scheduled to be put to demise by deadly injection for killing her two-year-old daughter Mariah, however new scientific proof suggests the toddler died unintentionally after a fall.

Leach stated {that a} presumably harmless girl was “about to be – let’s not mince phrases – murdered by the state”. He stated that the quite a few missteps made within the prosecution of Lucio had given him “nice pause” that was forcing him to rethink his assist of capital punishment.

“I’m not ashamed to say I believed within the demise penalty for probably the most heinous circumstances. However this case is shaking my confidence within the system. It has failed Melissa and the sufferer of the tragedy, Mariah, at each flip,” he stated.

The lawmaker had sturdy phrases to say concerning the agonizing wait Lucio is enduring in her last hours earlier than her scheduled execution.

“It’s barbaric,” Leach stated. “There’s no cause for it. They’ve had all the data they want for weeks – somebody simply has to step up and make the precise choice.”

The Republican lawmaker ran by means of a litany of prosecution failures. He stated: “If it was simply the interrogation, or only one piece of latest scientific proof, or just one juror and never 5 who’ve now stated they remorse their choice, then we might discuss. However when you may have all of this stuff the place the system has failed, then that causes nice alarm.”

Leach’s feedback got here as Lucio’s battle to avoid wasting her personal life entered its last feverish hours. Her attorneys are combating on a number of fronts within the hope of securing a keep of execution.

On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is assembly to debate the Lucio case, and its suggestion will then be handed to the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, for his last say. Abbott has the facility to place a maintain on the execution, grant Lucio clemency or let the method proceed to the demise chamber.

Jeff Leach with Melissa Lucio in jail. {Photograph}: AP

Authorized appeals have additionally been lodged with an area district courtroom in Cameron county and within the Texas courtroom of prison appeals in Austin. A brand new submitting on Monday reprised the various inconsistencies within the prosecution case, together with proof that Lucio’s confession was pressured and that Mariah died on account of accidents sustained when she fell down a steep flight of stairs and never at her mom’s fingers.

Leach has been on the forefront of efforts by Texas lawmakers to influence the authorities to postpone the execution. He orchestrated a letter to the board of pardons signed by 80 Home members, 32 of whom are Republican. An identical letter has been despatched by 20 Texas senators, eight Republican.

Within the Home letter, the lawmakers identified that Lucio was handled by prosecutors in a very completely different approach from her husband, who was additionally accountable for Mariah’s care. Lucio had no earlier historical past of violence and her youngsters stated she had by no means been abusive in direction of them; by contract her husband had a historical past of assault but is now a free man having solely served a four-year sentence for youngster endangerment.

The distinctive diploma of bipartisan settlement, with greater than half the legislature backing requires a keep, is extraordinarily uncommon in such a riven state. Leach, nevertheless, stated he was unsurprised.

“I do know our nation is fairly divided, and we’ve got our fights,” he stated. “However when one thing is as clear as this, I do know my legislative colleagues on each side of the aisle are keen to do the precise factor.”

Leach was considered one of a number of Texas lawmakers who visited Lucio earlier this month within the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville the place the ladies’s demise row is housed. He advised the Guardian that they prayed collectively and he held her hand.

“Her religion is extremely sturdy. She is comforted by the prayers of thousands and thousands internationally, so it was a tremendous second.”

On the encounter, Lucio invited Leach to attend her execution on Wednesday ought to it go forward. “If it does go ahead, I will likely be there,” he stated. “However I’m hoping that’s a visit I don’t should make.”

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