One of the Texas lawmakers working hard behind the scenes to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio was the one who got to tell her about her stay on Monday, just two days before the 53-year-old mother of 14 was to be put to death, and KXAN now has audio of that phone call. At the beginning of their conversation, Lucio—who's on death row for the 2007 fatal beating of her 2-year-old daughter—informed state Sen. Jeff Leach that she hadn't yet heard "the news" he brought. And so he filled her in on the Texas Court of Criminals Appeals' decision, evoking a stunned: "Are you serious? Are you serious? When did this happen?" from Lucio.
After the Republican lawmaker told her the development had come to light just minutes earlier, Lucio exclaimed, "Oh my God, that is wonderful. ... What does that mean?" Leach answered: "Well, it means you're going to wake up on Thursday morning." "Oh my goodness," was Lucio's response. "Oh, thank you, God." The Texas Tribune notes Lucio was alternately laughing and crying throughout the call, in which Leach also told her that "millions" had been praying on her behalf, and that he planned to keep pushing for her freedom and "to make sure that the right thing is done."
That right thing, in Leach's eyes, starts with a new trial, which he informed Lucio looked like a good possibility based on the court's order. "Melissa's case is the most troubling I have ever seen," Leach said in a statement after the stay was announced, per KXAN. "The system literally failed her at every turn. Thankfully, the Court of Criminal Appeals pushed the pause button." Even Kim Kardashian—one of Lucio's many supporters who've been lobbying for her exoneration—weighed in, calling the stay the "best news ever," per the Independent. In her own statement, Lucio thanked God and said Mariah, the daughter she's accused of killing, "is in my heart today and always." (Read more Texas stories.)