Local Federal Judge Disagrees With Higher Court; Says No To Child-Killer Debra Milke's Claim Of Miranda Rights Violation

Categories: Death Valley, News

A U.S. District Court Judge has dealt Debra Milke (pictured in a 1991 photo) a big legal setback, ruling that the death-row inmate did validly waive her Miranda rights against self-incrimination before she allegedly confessed to having her son murdered in 1989.

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Judge Robert C. Broomfield's 21-page ruling comes two weeks after hearing from both Milke and former Phoenix homicide Detective Armando Saldate during an evidentiary hearing in his courtroom.

The hearing had been ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after it ruled that it could find no evidence that Milke had waived her rights.

Broomfield's decision now returns to the appellate court for evaluation. The panel still may reverse him and rule that Detective Saldate illegally elicited Milke's incriminating statements, and order a new trial.

Then again, they may not.

But the judge's ruling left little to the imagination about his position.

A Maricopa County jury convicted Milke of first-degree murder and conspiring with two Phoenix men to commit first-degree murder by arranging the homicide of her four-year-old son Christopher.

Milke was one the area's more reviled murder defendants of that time, in part because police said that the young divorce'e allegedly lured her son to his death by telling him he was going to see Santa Claus.

New Times wrote extensively about the Milke case, and here and here are a few clips.

Judge Broomfield pointed out that the recent evidentiary hearing testimony of both Milke and Saldate "mirrors" what they said at trial two decades ago.

Milke testified that Saldate badgered her throughout the 30-minute interrogation, and ignored her requests to speak to an attorney. Saldate said that Milke told him she understood her rights but denied his request to tape-record the interview.

Judge Broomfield ruled in favor of the State of Arizona by a preponderance of the evidence (that can be 51 percent) that "[Milke] waived her Miranda rights."

The judge's opinion gives new fodder to the mantra of many: Never, ever talk to the police when you're a suspect, even if you're innocent as a lamb.

"There was no evidence that [Milke] was incapable of comprehending her rights," Broomfield wrote, "and only her self-serving testimony suggested that she did not understand them when they were recited by Saldate."

The judge noted that Milke's recent testimony "appeared rehearsed and formulated to support her legal arguments."

As for Saldate, who these days is an elected Phoenix constable, he said he "did not report that [Milke] gave a straightforward confession of guilt as to her role in her son's murder, as he could have done if he were fabricating his account of the interrogation."

James Styers (Milke's roommate at the time of Christopher's murder in the desert northwest of Phoenix) also is on death row, as Styers cohort Roger Wayne Scott.

Christoper Milke died instantly after one of the men--conventional wisdom says it was Styers--shot him three times from close range in the back of his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kozinski told the attorney. "All you really have to say is the confession came in improperly. And it was highly damaging . . . And if you manage to knock out the confession, then it's a different ballgame."

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4 comments
MGM5
MGM5

Add this doofus to the list of contributors to quite possibly the most corrupt capital murder trial in the history of Arizona. This case had it all: a frenzied public, lots of publicity, a lying cop and a prosecutor who withheld the cop's record of lying to juries and Miranda abuses, no physical evidence whatsoever....on and on. Fortunately, the 9th. Circuit stepped in and overturned this mess before they executed this woman....but only after she had spent 22 years in prison. 

azfrankie
azfrankie

"Conventional wisdom says it was Styers" - that's laughable! Roger Mark Scott killed Christopher, when all three went back to the car; first Styers, then Christopher, then Scott. And Scott still had the gun in his hands which Styers had purchased on the preceding weekend. The "conspiracy" was not a part of the story, but the tool to frame Styers between Scott's self-serving incrimination, and the invented confession of Milke. Styers refused to talk to police and requested an attorney - that posed a problem to Saldate. These videos give you all the details (including original evidence/audio): bit.ly/Q8igo6

FCMD
FCMD

The issue here is simple ... did she get a fair trial! The answer quite clearly is No! Only in America can suich a travisty of the law happen.

chioccamatt
chioccamatt

Only in America?  That's very true.  The criminal justice systems are wonderfully free of injustice and corruption in every other country on the planet.  Seriously, try picking up a paper once in a while to see what's going on in the world and my hunch is you'd retract that absurd statement.  

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