23 Apr Melissa Lucio lost everything. So did I.
I’m not Melissa Lucio. My name is Kristine Bunch. And on June 30, 1995, I lost everything in my life. I can replace my possessions. But losing my son, Tony, remains a wound in my heart and soul that will never heal. To this very day, I wonder why I lived and why my baby did not. The nightmares of the fire have never disappeared, and the pain is just as vivid today as the day it happened.
Losing a child is the most painful thing someone could go through. Being charged with their death is worse.
As if this loss wasn’t enough, the government then accused me of and convicted me for the fire that claimed my son’s life. No words can describe the horror of the government accusing you of something that you did not do.
To be accused of something so tragic was unthinkable. The grief crippled me. But in the wake of the shame and humiliation of jail and prison, I had no choice but to turn the grief off.
No one receives decent treatment in jail or prison. And it’s ten times worse when the government accuses you of a crime against a child. My fear was compounded because I was pregnant with my second child. But my focus was solely on staying safe and healthy so I could deliver a healthy child.
I begged for help for a decade. Once I finally got help, it took another six years for that help to pay off.
I wrote hundreds of letters begging attorneys to recognize my innocence — to see my truth. But I was not a Forensic Fire Scientist, and I knew nothing about the legal system. I was just a mother who had been through a horrific ordeal that knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.
The years went by, and I kept writing letters. After 10 years in prison, I still wasn’t a Forensic Fire Scientist. Yet I knew that my case had been based on arson myths. I also knew that fire science had evolved. Thankfully, I was finally able to get help through the Innocence Network.
Once you have a legal team to help, you start to believe that you will get right into court and go home quickly. In reality, it took six more years before I walked out of the prison doors.
I honestly couldn’t believe that it took so long to get back into court and present the evidence that proved this was an accidental fire. But the experts that testified on my behalf painted a clear picture of my innocence, and I’m free today because of it.
My case and Melissa Lucio’s case have a lot in common. But I’m still alive. In a few days, she might not be.
There are some very obvious similarities between my case and Melissa Lucio’s case. Melissa Lucio lost her child in a tragic accident. And, like me, the government blamed her for it. Currently, she is on death row in Texas.
Fortunately, Melissa Lucio has an incredible group of attorneys that are fighting to prove her innocence. Unfortunately, officials have set Melissa’s execution for April 27th, a date less than one week away.
My heart breaks for this mother that has endured so much pain and loss. It is unthinkable to me that she could lose her life before she proves her innocence.
I am begging every person to use your voice to help Melissa Lucio. Call Governor Greg Abbott at 956-446-2866 or visit savemelissa.org to help.
Most of us don’t worry about anyone wrongfully accusing us of hurting our children. Unfortunately, many women do.
You probably don’t have to think about someone wrongfully accusing of committing a crime against your child on a daily basis. That’s good. Parents shouldn’t have to parent in fear. But consider the facts…
More than seven out of every ten women exonerated in the past 30 years sat in prison for a crime that never happened.
According to data from The National Registry of Exonerations, roughly 71% of women exonerated in the last three decades were wrongfully convicted of crimes that never took place at all. Instead, the “crimes” the prosecutors charged them with and convicted them of turned out to be accidents, suicides or even complete fabrications.
More than 25 percent of the women who have been exonerated were wrongfully accused of harming a child in their care.
Additionally, more than one quarter — around 28% — of female exonerees served prison time for crimes in which the victim was a child in their care.
False or misleading forensic evidence has led to the wrongful convictions of almost 100 exonerated women since the 1990s.
Lastly, false or misleading forensic evidence has contributed to 94 wrongful convictions of female exonerees over the past three decades. Errors in forensic testing, information based on unreliable or unproven forensic methods, fraudulent information or evidence and forensic information presented with exaggerated and misleading confidence have all contributed to wrongful convictions.