Explicit content is found in this episode listener discretion is advised. Welcome back to the true crime fan club podcast. I'm your host Laney, Melissa, Lucille, is one of only six women on death row in the state of Texas. She is to be executed by lethal injection for the crime of capital murder against her very own child Maria, Robert Alvarez was Melissa live-in, partner, and also mariah's father, while Robert looked the other way Melissa was convicted of abusing Mariah. So severely over the course of several months that it ultimately led to her death. Okay on the show. Melissa Lucia was born on June. Eighteenth nineteen sixty nine she was born raised and lived in Texas her entire life. She was the oldest raised alongside her five siblings, two sisters and three brothers, Melissa sister Sonia Valencia recalls her being funny, and very smart at math, their childhood growing up was normal, like, so many other children of that time, they grew up playing outside making mud pies and playing hopscotch and hide and seek their mother worked at night, and they're stepdad cared for the kids in the evenings. Their mom kept a very clean home, and all of the kids had chores, they were expected to do so Neha remembers herself being the troublemaker of the girls while Melissa was more of a people pleaser, Melissa married at a fairly young age and had seven children with her first husband Melissa's verse. Husband was an alcoholic and very abusive towards her when he got drunk, the abuse got worse because of this, the mirrored fell apart, and she would later get divorced. She eventually began a long term relationship with a man named Robert Alvarez, despite never marrying, Robert, and Melissa had seven children together, five of their kids were born before, Melissa would eventually be imprisoned. There twins were born in October two thousand seven during the time Melissa was jailed Robert was a drug addict. And he brought those addictions into their marriage soon Melissa would be doing drugs to during the relationship Melissa struggled with depression and drug abuse. A few of her children were born drug addicted to cocaine, according to CPS reports, chap protective services or CPS. They are commonly referred to was frequently involved with. A family. There were often allegations of abuse, and neglect CPS had many contacts with Melissa and her children between nineteen ninety five and two thousand seven when her then youngest child was killed CPS has reports on the family amid allegations of abuse, neglect, or both in nineteen ninety-five nineteen Ninety-six nineteen ninety eight two thousand two thousand one two thousand to two thousand three and he four when, you know, the end of this story, it's hard to ignore CPS as role in it on September twenty first two thousand four CPS removed, five children, from the home of Melissa, and Robert, the children, Robert Gabriel Adriana, Sarah and Maria ranged in age from three years old. Two three weeks old in an affidavit filed by CPS worker. The condition situation were living in could only be described as complete squalor specifically CPS specialist. Dila Garza cited, quote, unsafe living conditions for children. There were ants crawling on the floor and mattress where the newborn slept. The EPA David continued stating, there was a fan in the window that had no cover inside the refrigerator. There was only a rotten head of lettuce a carton of eggs, and a plastic container of manny's signs of physical abuse were apparent on all of the children each child appeared to have bite marks in various sizes and bruising and varying degrees of colors. They were all filthy, and the youngest were not even wearing diapers and had dried fecal matter on their bodies. The children were placed in foster care during this time, because there were no family members that were present to care for them. Melissa. And Robert did however participate in services with CPS, and eventually, the five children, Melissa had with Robert, along with three of her other children were returned back into her care on November twenty first two thousand six there were twelve children, all living in a small apartment with Melissa and Robert, Robert worked, but they also received a significant amount of welfare and assistance from the state of Texas. It was reported that Melissa and Robert were receiving nearly five thousand dollars a month, and assistance from the state Melissa was reported to be a drug addict, but she claimed to be clean after her children were returned to her. However, she did say that Robert was still using drugs. It is possible that Melissa and Robert would have still been financially drowning, even with his income, and the assistance, they received from the state, there are many speculations, that could be made about what went on in that home. But one thing is clear, the abuse that Mariah, suffered led to her death, and would subsequently land Melissa on Texas death row and put Robert in prison for four years on February, seventeenth two thousand seven and approximately seven PM police were dispatched to the home of Robert Alvarez and Melissa Lucio. They live together in an apartment with nine of Milas children, five of them reported to be Roberts. The couple was in the process of moving to a new apartment, Robert had contacted nine one one because he noticed his youngest child two year old Maria was not breathing. According to Roberts testimony, he had trying to perform CPR on her, but didn't think it was helping. And he later started to have panic and said everything happened so fast. He said that URL. Earlier in the day, Melissa told him multiple times upon his asking that. Mariah was fine. And that there was nothing wrong with her though. He sent something was wrong with Mariah. He believed Melissa because she told him that Mariah was okay. He never pressed further after the paramedics were called and arrived on scene. The immediately noted that the younger girl was lying in the apartment without anyone near her and was completely. Motionless Melissa showed little to no emotion over the state of her younger daughter. She told paramedics at her daughter have fallen down set of stairs outside their apartment building. She thought her daughter seemed all right at first, so she brought her back inside the apartment and didn't report it, it was later that afternoon when Robert had returned home from running errands, that he checked on the little girl. A few times the last time he checked. She was not breathing, which is when he began CPR. PR and contacted nine one one in his statement to police, he said that if he felt he had taken her to a doctor sooner she might still be alive today. Little Maria Alvarez was transported to the valley Baptist medical center in Harlingen Texas where she was pronounced dead. Doctors at the hospital noted the horrific conditions of her tiny body, the little girl showed many signs of abuse that were in different stages of healing. She had bruising all over her body, and doctors reported bite marks on her back, one of her arms had been broken approximately two to seven weeks before her death. And she was missing portions of her hair, where it had been pulled out of its roots, the physicians at the hospital, who looked over mariah's body seated that this was the absolute worst case of child abuse. They had ever seen mariah's ultimate cause of death was listed. As blunt force trauma, the same evening. That nine one one call was made for Mariah police brought, Melissa and for questioning they had her in an interrogation room from ten o'clock, pm until about three o'clock, a m Melissa told several different versions of her story during this interrogation it was recorded and would later be introduced as evidence in her murder trial. It would also become a topic of her leader appeal due to the fact that the audio of her statement was of low quality. There were also some areas where Melissa's defense team could only define it as inaudible during this nearly five hour interrogation Melissa told police that Mariah had fallen down the stairs on February fifteenth two days before the emergency services were called. She leader changed her story stating that she fell on the seventeenth for more than two and a half hours, Melissa maintained that she didn't know how Moore. Yeah, I got all of those bruises and marks on her body, detective Escalante, who was in charge of the investigation would testify at her trial about this interview. He said he could tell that Melissa was beginning to see that she was had, and that she wanted to confess he continued oppressor because of this, he was firm in his testimony that he could tell just by her body language in the interview that she wanted to come clean leader on into the interview, Melissa finally admitted to abusing her daughter and other children. She told police at her partner, Robert had never hit Mariah or the other children when questioned if it was possible, that Melissa's other kids could have hit Mariah. She stated that no one else had ever hit Mariah. But her police brought her a dull and had her demonstrate exactly how she abused her little girl and to show them, what she. Did police continued grilling Melissa and an attempt to obtain a fully detailed confession from her Melissa would admit that she abused her daughter by spanking, her and hitting her? However, she would not admit to killing her as detectives continued with their questioning Melissa admitted to them that Mariah was sick the day that she died. She said Mariah slept most of the day, and when she tried to feed her Mariah would buy down and not take any food. Many of the symptoms that she described would later be testified to, as being similar to those of someone who was subjected to blunt force trauma, according to the videotape played at the trial, she stated that she was frayed to take the little girl to the hospital that day because of all the bruising on her body. She would leader also say she was afraid, Robert would accuse her of being a bad mother. Unfit bureau. Eighteenth two thousand seven Melissa Lucio was arrested, and I'll may sixteenth two thousand eight she was indicted on capital murder charges, according to find law, Texas does not officially use the term first degree murder. Instead, the equivalent is capital murder. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and knowingly caused the death of another person the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury and committed an act that was clearly dangerous to human life. And this act caused the death of an individual further Texas penal code, also cites additional criteria for an offense to be considered a capital murder offense, which includes the defendant murders child younger than six years old on may thirty first two thousand seven she was arraigned on the charges in the summer of two. Thousand eight Melissa went to trial for the capital murder of her daughter Maria Alvarez, several doctors CPS workers, paramedics and police testified at her trial, the chief forensic pathologist for the Cameron and Hidalgo counties. Dr Norma Jean Farley testify that the blunt force trauma to mariah's head probably occurred within twenty four hours of her death. She also testified that the blunt force trauma in this case basically means beaten around the head with something an object a hand a fist or slammed against something. She further stated that she did not believe the injury to be consistent with falling down the stairs, the videotape of her police interrogation was also introduced, which would prove to be an integral part in the prosecution making their case, frosty cures wanted show. Melissa's odd behavior at the scene. The wanted the jury to see. See the pattern of abuse at the hands of Melissa as documented by her many CPS interactions. Prosecutors needed the jury to see the old injuries of the two year old bruise limbs and damaged vital organs and old broken bones. The most damning evidence came from the investigators who spent direct time with Melissa, one of the -tective, and the case testified that while he was transporting Melissa to the dentist office in order to obtain dental impressions to compare to the bite marks on mariah's back. He overheard Melissa on a cell phone, call telling another family member that she was responsible for mariah's death when it was time for the defense to present their case, they were able to show that the investigation was not as thorough as one would expect while numerous forensic items were obtained for testing. They were never actually tested this included drug residue found at the apart. -ment drug testing for Melissa and Robert and DNA testing on hair and fingernails taken from Melissa. The defense also had expert testimony from Dr then suggested it was possible that mariah's injuries could have happened from a full dental molds were made from all of the available family members. But none of them matched, the bite marks on mariah's body. However, this may have been due to the marks on mariah's back having been made from teeth scraping against her skin, rather than a bite down the defense team pointed out that there was a total of five different. Police officers questioning Melissa without an attorney present she answered their questions, but she had been awake. For almost twenty four hours. She was understandably tired and stressed as noted an appeals documents Melissa's Lee defense. Attorney Peter Gilman said in his final arc. Kamenz that his client had not confessed to murdering her child. However, he would never call her mother of the year. He told the jury that Melissa herself had only been told about Mariah falling down the stairs about twenty four hours before her death. He said that Melissa wasn't home when Mariah fell because of family was in the process of moving to another apartment. He went on to say that while his client was guilty of child abuse. She wasn't guilty of murder and having confessed to such despite his impassioned, pleas to the jury Melissa Lucio was found guilty of capital murder against her little girl, Maria Alvarez on July ninth two thousand eight quart would reconvene to proceed to the penalty phase of the trial, when he met with reporters at morning before court Cameron county district attorney are Mondovi. Mobile's indicated that his plan, all along was to ask for the death penalty warranty testimony was given during the penalty phase of the trial during this portion both sides are required to show the jury the likelihood of Melissa re-offending after serving her prison sentence. This would help determine if the appropriate sentence was life with the possibility of parole. Life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty because of the long term ongoing abuse the prosecution wanted Melissa to receive the death penalty prosecutors wanted to show any possible negative behaviors they could in order to justify the death penalty rather than a life sentence evidence about her negative behavior in jail was introduced, including disciplined. She had received for fighting and for having contraband. The prosecution also brought up Melissa's conviction for drinking and driving. Melissa was arrested for drunk driving offense before her daughter died, but wasn't convicted and sentence until after she was arrested for mariah's death. Melissa's defense had to show that there were mitigating factors to Melissa's behavior and that she was not a danger to the society at large. They presented expert. Testimony from psychologists who claimed that Melissa had alleged. She was a long suffering victim of both sexual and physical assault. Her mother's boyfriend had sexually assaulted her at a very young age since she was about sixteen years old. She had been exposed to drugs and violence, her defense also argued that, if the state considered Melissa to be so dangerous, then why was she allowed CPS supervised visitation with her twins during her incarceration after deliberating once again, the twelve person jury came back with the decision to sentence Melissa Lucio to death. On July twenty second two thousand eight Melissa was formerly sentenced to death by lethal injection. She was the first woman ever in Cameron county to be sentenced to the death penalty and only one of ten and all of Texas at the time and September of two thousand nine Robert Alvarez went to trial on his charges stemming from the death of his daughter. Mariah Robert was charged with causing serious bodily injury and failing to seek medical care. He alleged that he was out running errands, on the day that Mariah was killed. Robert told officers that on February seventeenth two thousand seven he quote knew something was wrong with his little girl, he checked on her several times at evening. And on the last check he found her not responsive or breathing. He knew he needed to do something. So he picked Mariah up and placed her on the ground and proceeded to perform CPR to try to. Get her to breathe again. He called nine one one and then continued CPR until the paramedics arrived. He said he asked Melissa if their little girl was okay earlier, and she said, she was his claim is that it wasn't until he started CPR that he noticed bruising all over his daughter? He was arrested that night and would remain in jail until his trial over two years later. It didn't take jury long to come back with a guilty. Verdict on the charges. The judge state district judge Benjamin, you rusty junior sentence, Robert the same day he was found guilty. Robert was sentenced to four years in prison, because he had been imprisoned since the day, Mariah was killed, he would only have to serve an additional two years in prison district attorney via lables will leader tell reporters that, while he was happy with the verdict. He wasn't very happy with the sentence Melissa would go on to appeal her conviction. To the Texas court of criminal appeals who did ultimately uphold her conviction in September. Two thousand eleven Melissa Lucio lost her appeal and the Texas court of criminal appeals. There were fourteen points of error Melissa's appellate attorneys suggested were made by the trial court among the claims in her appeal Melissa's defense team, had an expert that would testify at the trial to the behaviors that Melissa exhibited during her initial police contact as well as her police interrogation specifically Melissa's defense team wanted to introduce expert. Testimony from miss Norma via Nueva. The defense team believed as quoted in the court of appeals brief the misfield Nueva could testify to the inability of a battered woman to give voluntary statement. They also cited in the brief that the essence of miss via Nuevas testimony is that Melissa was a battered woman, and would have and did tell the. Police what they wanted her to say she believed Melissa would resort to battered women behavior in order to get herself out of trouble. This would include doing or saying anything in order to keep the peace and take the blame on herself for anything that happened, whether it was her fault, or not, the defense also wanted miss Vienne Weber today. Sect Melissa's body language with police and CPS workers. However, the trial court did not find misbehave as testimony to be expert testimony and determined. It was not relevant. Another argument raised in her appeal was at the videotape of her initial interview with police was an audible during several points of the recording. The Steve responded to the claim saying that while the recording was not of the greatest quality. It was still completely audible when turning up the volume at quieter points. The state also suggested that using headphones. Improve the sound quality further. Another claim raised was the fact that the trial court didn't allow a jury instruction. The gave the jury the ability to consider a lesser charge, the state countered this claim by saying that the only way a reasonable jury could really consider a lesser charge. Is if Melissa had admitted to causing the head injury that was made by blunt force trauma, because Melissa has always insisted that Maria had fallen down a flight of stairs. She wasn't taking responsibility for the head injury that Mariah died from and therefore the jury could not consider a lesser charge. The appellate brief also attempted to minimize Melissa's future dangerousness by citing old case law in which a defendant, murdered her newborn child and then became pregnant again, murdering that newborn child as well. That woman's lawyer successfully claimed that she did not pose a threat of future dangerousness to the public. Nick, but rather only to her own newborn children, since the defendant, would not be eligible for parole until after her childbearing years. She was not a danger to anyone after her parole eligibility in Melissa's case, the state counter argued that Melissa did pose a threat of future dangerousness because of the ongoing and severe abuse to Mariah at her own hands, which led to the child's death in the end the Texas court of criminal appeals did not find in favour of any of the claims of error raised by Melissa in her appeal, which meant that her conviction would stand on February eleventh, two thousand fourteen in a surprising turn of events. The Cameron county district attorney that prosecuted, Melissa Lucio and Robert Alvarez Armando via locals was sentenced to thirteen years and federal prison for bribery, and extol. Russian an FBI investigation into our Mondovi Lobos and others stated that they participated in an ongoing conspiracy from two thousand six until two thousand twelve by taking bribes and kickbacks and cash and campaign contributions in exchange for leniency and sometimes outright. Dismissal of charges. It was found that are Mondovi Lobos had accepted almost one hundred thousand dollars in bribes, and he was even using his office to help his personal associates, and their own suits against the county via Lobos was ultimately convicted of one count of violating the racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations act, also known as the Rico act, one count of conspiracy to violate the Rico act and five counts of extortion. One count of extortion was dismissed upon his motion for acquittal after his thirteen year prison term. He will be. On parole for three years. He was also ordered to pay nearly three hundred seventy thousand dollars in fines and restitution. It remains to be seen whether any of his convictions will be overturned as a result of his own criminal charges are Mondovi, yellow, bows. Currently remains and federal prison. Robert Alvarez was released from prison. Approximately two years after his jury trial as of this recording. Melissa Lucille remains on death row for the capital murder of her daughter Maria Alvarez, no execution date has been scheduled in lead April of two thousand nineteen. I reached out to the free Melissa Lucille Facebook page run by Melissa's, sisters Sonya. And Diane, I asked the sisters to answer some questions that would help me understand the impact of Melissa's conviction and subsequent incarceration. While we often spend time focused on the punishment of the perpetrator. Her. How do you show empathy? When the victim and perpetrator come from the same family, I wanted to offer Melissa's family an opportunity to share their side of things, and how Melissa's incarceration has affected them Melissa's family, misses her very much. They do not believe she belongs in prison, much less on death row. They prayed daily for her release and hope for some positive outcomes in the future. Her family firmly believes that former district attorney are Mondovi Lobos use Melissa's low income status would several children as a way to secure a popular conviction that he could then use or his reelection campaign. They implore anyone who wants to send a positive message to Melissa to contact her as she is currently in solitary confinement for unknown reasons. Okay fan club members, as I conclude the Sepah sewed my one question to you is. How will you sleep tonight? Thank you for listening. If you enjoy the Sepah sewed, please be sure to leave a positive review on apple podcasts or your podcast player of choice. You can find us on most social media platforms. Twitter at TC FC pod. Facebook dot com slash t CFC podcast Instagram at TC FC underscore podcast. And of course, our website is true crime fan club dot com. For episode suggestions. Email us at t- CFC pod. Angie, mound dot com. This episode was researched by Brittany Martinez and written by Mary Cole audio engineering, and original composition for this show was provided by nego at we'd talk of dreams. Check him out on Twitter act, we talk of dreams or we talk of dreams dot com.