Detective: Lucio admitted to beating daughter

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Detective: Lucio admitted to beating daughter

Post  Jennie on Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:31 pm


Detective: Lucio admitted to beating daughter

A Harlingen detective on Tuesday testified that he overheard Melissa Elizabeth Lucio admit that she was responsible for the beating death of her 2 1/2-year-old daughter.

Lucio is charged with capital murder in the Feb. 17, 2007, death of Mariah Alvarez.

Officer Robert Muñoz testified that he and another officer were driving Lucio and her husband to a Brownsville dentist and that Lucio was allowed to make a call on a cell phone at that time.

He said he heard Lucio say, "Don't blame Robert. This was me. I did it."

Lucio and her husband Roberto Antonio Alvarez were to have casts made of their teeth, to compare to bite marks found on Mariah's back, the officer said.

Numerous photos of the child's body, covered with new and old bruises and other injuries, were presented to the jury.

Prosecutors attacked Lucio's statement to police that the little girl fell down a flight of outside stairs at the family's former apartment on Madison Avenue.

Lawyers on both sides of the case said Lucio has had 14 children, the oldest of which are now adults and the youngest were Mariah and a set of twins born in jail after she was arrested on the capital murder charge.

If convicted, Lucio, 38, could face the death penalty or from 5 to 99 years in prison.

Defense attorney Peter Gilman hammered detectives and a Child Protective Service worker during their turns on the witness stand.

Harlingen Police Detective Rebecca Cruz, who was in charge of all the evidence in the case, was asked by Gilman whether any tests were made on soft drink cans, a spoon with alleged cocaine residue and baking soda found together in an apartment on Madison Avenue in Harlingen.

Lucio and her family had vacated the apartment. Police searched it and the apartment on West Lee Street where Mariah was found dead by police and paramedics, but no laboratory tests were ordered of the alleged drug residue visible in police photos. Neither Lucio nor her husband was tested for drugs, Gilman said.

Cruz also admitted hair and fingernail clippings taken from Lucio were never sent to a laboratory for testing.

No dental impressions were taken from any of the older children in the family, Gilman was told.

Texas Ranger Victor Escalon Jr. testified that when he helped interview Lucio at the Harlingen police station the evening after the toddler died, Lucio changed her story until she admitted beating the girl to death.

Under questioning by Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos, Escalon testified that Lucio was given a child's baby doll to demonstrate what she had done and showed how she beat the child on the back of the head and shook her violently from side to side.

"You're adding things other than what the video shows," Gilman said loudly to the ranger. "You're just making that up. That's a bunch of baloney. She didn't say she shook (Mariah) from side to side. You don't have any evidence of Melissa shaking Mariah or throwing her."

Escalon admitted the only proof he had was from Lucio's admissions during questioning at the police station from 10 p.m. to about 3:30 a.m.

CPS caseworker Jo Ann Estrada testified that she was not completely familiar with the background of the case but had worked extensively with the family after the 2007 death of Mariah.

She refuted Gilman's claims that some of Lucio's older children were unruly and hard to handle by foster parents.

Gilman questioned why the CPS was trying to permanently revoke Lucio's parental rights but at the same time arranged parental visits with her children, including weekly visits with her newborn twins.

Estrada said CPS was complying with a court order. State District Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson told jurors it was not his order.

Nelson told the jury that they will have today off because of scheduling problems for witnesses.

A pathologist will testify Thursday and then defense attorneys will being questioning their witnesses and presenting evidence on Monday, the judge said.

(source: Brownsvile Herald)

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