State of Texas v. Melissa explores the life journey of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in the state of Texas. For 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 adulthood 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. State of Melissa v. Texas is the portrait of a woman’s fight against an entire system. —Deborah Rudolph
Sabrina Van Tassel is a French-American film director and a journalist. Over the last 15 years, she has directed over 45 documentary films for major television networks. Her work focuses mainly on social and politically motivated matters.