Amanda Knox knows a little something about being falsely accused of murder.
The 34-year-old—who served four years in prison in Italy after being convicted of murdering her roommate, before being freed in 2011 and exonerated in 2015—is now using her platform to speak out in support of Melissa Lucio, a 53-year-old Texas woman sitting on death row for the death of her 2-year-old daughter. Lucio’s lawyers say the toddler’s was a tragic accident caused by a fall down flights of stairs. Knox believes Lucio, whose execution is scheduled for April 27, is innocent, too.
In a Medium post shared Wednesday, Knox first reflects on her own experience with overcoming the trauma of being falsely accused of and punished for a violent crime—particularly for women:
“When men are wrongfully convicted, there’s usually an obvious crime, blood and trauma, a grieving victim’s family. The police and prosecutors just got the wrong person... But when women are wrongfully convicted, in nearly 70% of cases it’s for crimes that never occurred — deaths by accident, disease or suicide, and in nearly a third of cases, it’s for the deaths of their own children. With women, most often, the grieving family is their own.”
Lucio, Knox says, is one of these women, on the verge of being killed by the state for the accidental death of her own daughter. In the Medium post, Knox also emphasizes Lucio’s lifetime of experiencing sexual and domestic abuse, including from multiple male relatives and a first husband she married at 16, who “was violent towards her, and who eventually abandoned her with five children.”
“Melissa Lucio’s entire life, she had been the victim of abuse,” Knox wrote. “And when she finally escaped that second husband, she was kidnapped into the abusive arms of the state of Texas.”
Citing experts, Knox argues that experiencing trauma and abuse “makes people more likely to succumb to coercive pressure to confess.” She adds that Lucio was “also pregnant, her youngest child had just died, and while struggling with that sudden loss, she was accused of murder.” On top of this, “her interrogators kept her up until 3 am.” Knox related to this experience to her own, nearly 15 years ago in Italy:
“In my case, I was 20, alone in a foreign country, thousands of miles from home, being interrogated in a foreign language. My roommate had just been senselessly and brutally murdered, the killer was on the loose, and I had no one to turn to for help. No one but the police. And over 53 hours in five days, they broke me.”
Knox concludes her poignant post by recounting meeting several men who were exonerated for killing their infant children—including one who hugged her daughter Eureka, and in doing so, felt “sadness for his own child he’d never had a chance to properly grieve.” She then gave him a hug. “I wish I could do the same for Melissa Lucio,” Knox wrote. “I wish I could meet her… and say, ‘You don’t have to explain a thing, sister. We know.’”
Lucio’s execution is currently slated for next week, though Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz has said that if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals or Gov. Greg Abbott don’t stay Lucio’s execution, Saenz “will do what I have to do to stop it.” In other words, Lucio may receive clemency or a delay in her execution, but will likely remain incarcerated. Saenz has repeatedly expressed support for Lucio’s conviction, while the state attorney general’s office maintains that Lucio’s daughter was the victim of the “absolute worst” child abuse seen by her emergency room doctor in decades. In a February court filing, the office stated, “Lucio advances no evidence that is reliable and supportive of her acquittal.”
Lucio’s lawyers, as well as a growing number of public figures who have rallied in support of her, disagree, arguing that Lucio denied abusing her daughter over a hundred times during her interrogation. It was only after hours of aggressive, exhausting questioning, they say, when police asked if she was responsible for some of her child’s injuries, that she told them, “I guess I did it.” According to her legal team, this statement was taken out of context and inaccurately framed by prosecutors as a confession.
Five of the jurors who originally sentenced Lucio to death have spoken out and said they would have voted differently based on the information they know about her case, today. One juror, Johnny Galvin, Jr. wrote in a recent op ed in The Houston Chronicle that “there were so many details” about Lucio’s case that simply “went unmentioned” during the trial, including that police officers overseeing the case neglected to even test evidence it had collected to see if Lucio’s DNA could be matched to injuries on her daughter’s body.
In Knox’s Medium post, she notes that “it’s a rite of passage… the first time your child falls, that first moment of parental negligence, that first jolt of unexpected pain that shocks them (and you) into tears”—unless “you’re Melissa Lucio, whose daughter died from just such an accident, whom the state of Texas plans to execute on April 27th for a crime that never even occurred.”
All eyes are now on the Cameron County District Attorney and Gov. Abbott’s offices to see who will act first—or at all—to save Lucio’s life.