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Melissa Lucio execution delayed by appeals court: 'I thank God for my life'

A Texas appeals court has delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio to allow a lower court to review new evidence she claims will exonerate her, The Associated Press reports Monday. 

The decision arrives "amid growing doubts" as to whether Lucio "fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter" in a case that has garnered widespread, nationwide attention, AP writes. It is not immediately clear when the lower court might begin reviewing the claims.

Lucio, 53, had been scheduled for lethal injection on Wednesday. The execution stay was announced just minutes before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was poised to "consider her clemency application to either commute her death sentence or grant her a 120-day reprieve," per AP.

"I thank God for my life," Lucio said in a statement, ABC News reports. "I am grateful the Court has given me the chance to live and prove my innocence."

Lucio's lawyers have argued that her conviction relied on a coerced confession, and that unscientific and false evidence misled jurors into believing Lucio's daughter's injuries could have only been caused by physical abuse, AP writes. Lawyers and Lucio have claimed the daughter — named Mariah — died after falling down a flight of outdoor stairs.

Prosecutors don't buy claims that new evidence might exonerate Lucio, who they said has "had a history of drug abuse and at times had lost custody of some of her 14 children," AP summarizes.

Lucio was originally sentenced to death 14 years ago, per NBC News. Prosecutors alleged Lucio abused and subsequently killed Mariah, who they said "had bruises on her body, signs of a head injury, and an untreated broken arm when she died in February 2007," NBC News writes.