Bill Montgomery Wants to Retry Debra Milke: Lying Ex-Cop Armando Saldate Monty's Major Handicap
The testimony that put Debra Milke on death row, now a liability for the state
Can't say I'm surprised that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants to retry Debra Milke, whose 1990 murder conviction was recently thrown out by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
After all, the Milke case stirs passions like only the killing of a child can. The state alleged Milke played desert Medea, plotting the murder of her four year-old son Christopher, with the assistance of two losers, one of whom executed the child with three bullets to the back of the head, leaving the body in a wash near Happy Valley Road and 99th Avenue.
Former New Times scribe Paul Rubin covered the crime and the trial in depth. I will not rehash the details, as he hashed them plenty at the time, and followed the case in the years thereafter.
Plus, all you need do is plug the name Debra Milke into your favorite search engine, and you're sure to be overwhelmed.
Many are convinced of her guilt, online and otherwise. No doubt some would would pay to poke her arm with poison.
Hard to imagine Monty, who like all prosecutors fancies himself as tougher on crime than Vlad the Impaler, not pandering to this virtual lynch mob.
But after reviewing the Ninth Circuit's damning decision in the case, which implicates both the county attorney's office and the Phoenix Police Department in the myriad sins of former Phoenix cop Armando Saldate, whose testimony put Milke on death row, I find the public's demand for retribution downright scary.
See, the Ninth concluded that the prosecution had withheld so-called "Brady material," which would have aided the defense's case, specifically the information that Saldate had, in the words of the court, "a lack of compunction about lying during the course of his official duties."
Saldate claimed that Milke waived her Miranda rights and confessed to him almost immediately upon interrogation, supposedly admitting that she wanted the kid offed because he was an inconvenience and reminded her of her ex.
The veteran homicide detective didn't tape record the conversation, though a superior had ordered him to do so. He did not have Milke repeat the confession for a tape recording, did not write up her confession and have her sign it.
He didn't have someone else present as a witness. Nor did he have a colleague monitor the interrogation via two-way mirror.
Oh, and he destroyed his notes of the interrogation.