Sabrina Van Tassel On The First Hispanic Woman on Death Row in The State of Texas Vs. Melissa Documentary [Exclusive Interview]

Sabrina Van Tassel
Sabrina Van Tassel directed The State of Texas Vs. Melissa documentary about Melissa Lucio on death row

Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman on death row in Texas, hopes people are aware of her innocence in The State of Texas Vs. Melissa.

Journalist and documentarian Sabrina Van Tassel took her investigative reporting style to track down the truth behind the murder of Melissa Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter. She discovered a very supportive family, evidence of an accident, an unaggressive attorney, and a politically motivated corrupt district attorney.

Here’s the official synopsis of The State of Texas Vs. Melissa:

The State of Texas Vs. Melissa explores the life journey of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in the state of Texas. For over ten years, she has been awaiting her fate, and now faces her last appeal. No one had ever seen Melissa be violent towards her children, yet she was blamed for the daily abuse and subsequent death of her two-year-old daughter, who died from blunt head trauma. Set in the heart of the Latino community of South Texas, the film takes a look at Melissa’s broken childhood, her adult life plagued by poverty and prejudice, and the miscarriage of justice Melissa faced, from the court-appointed attorney who willingly set aside evidence, to the District Attorney who used her case to help his re-election. The State of Texas Vs. Melissa is a portrait of a woman’s fight against an entire system. It was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

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LRM Online’s Gig Patta spoke with director Sabrina Van Tassel about Melissa Lucio, her family, difficulties in getting evidence, and her opinion about the relentless pursuit of the death penalty by Texas.

Sabrina Van Tassel is an investigative reporter, who directed over 45 documentary films in the past 15 years for major television programs. Her focus was mainly on social and politically motivated matters. In the past, they included subjects such as women forced into marriage, underage sex trafficking, post-traumatic stress, children in the white nationalist movement, women in prison, and the holocaust. The 2015’s The Silenced Walls was her first documentary theatrically released.

The State of Texas Vs. Melissa is available on VOD today.

Watch the exclusive interview below. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Film Rise

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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