Arizona Court Upholds Death Sentence for James Styers, One of 24 Inmates on Death Row for Over 20 Years

Categories: Death Row
styers.jpg
Arizona Department of Corrections
James Styers
The Arizona Supreme Court has again upheld the death sentence of a man who murdered his girlfriend's 4-year-old son more than 20 years ago.

Styers is one of 24 inmates who's been on Arizona's death row for two decades or more.

In a 4-1 ruling today, the court has again affirmed the death sentence for James Lynn Styers, who was convicted in the 1989 murder of Christopher Milke.

According to various media reports from the time of the murder, Styers was living with his girlfriend, Debra Jean Milke, and her son when he hatched a scheme to cash in on a $5,000 insurance policy on the 4-year-old boy's life.

Debra Jean Milke, also sentenced to death for her son's murder, dressed the boy in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa at the Metrocenter mall on December 8, 1989. Instead, Styers took the boy into the desert, near 99th Avenue and Jomax Road, where he fatally shot him and left the body.

That same day, Styers reported the boy missing.

However, during an interview with police the next day, Styers admitted to killing the boy and took authorities to the desert where he'd shot him.

Debra Jean Milke later admitted to police that she'd conspired with Styers to kill the boy and collect the life-insurance money. She told detectives it would be better to have her son die than to grow up like her husband.

According to the Associated Press, Justice Andrew Hurwitz dissented in the ruling to affirm Styers death sentence, saying Styers is entitled to a new sentencing proceeding involving a jury.
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10 comments
abrellbama
abrellbama

James King-You really need to get your facts straight before you write an article.  Debra Milke NEVER confessed to conspiring to kill her son.  She has maintained her innocence for over 23 years now.  That is the problem.  Former Det. Saldate fabricated a false confession and NOW is pleading the 5th so he does not have to incriminate himself in Milke's re-trial.  Everyone and I do mean everyone has convicted this woman based on a crooked ex-cop's testimony.  What a travesty of justice.  What you, James King, should be writing about is why people should NEVER speak to police without their attorney present and if you can't afford an attorney, get the court to appoint you an attorney but DO NOT speak with police without one because THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!  And what I can't believe, James King, is that you say she told "detectives" when in fact she never told ANY detective, much less more than one.  GET YOUR FACTS  STRAIGHT before you write a piece like this!

Guest
Guest

 Girlfriend or friend, the point is irrelevant, he was living with her a the time of the murder and had dated her previously.  Seriously, our court system needs to come up with quicker ways to execute members of death row.  20+ years on death row......all 3 of them need to have their sentences handed out. 

guest
guest

Debra Milke was not his girlfriend. Get your facts straight or stop writing..

Perrymount1
Perrymount1

Ok lets recap:

1. He admitted to killing the boy.2. Showed where the body is.3. Admitted it was for insurance money.4. Not claiming any type of mental condition ( that i can tell from the story )

Why has it taken over 20 years to carry out the sentence? Executions need to be televised over closed circuit TV to every inmate in the prison. They can either see what they are in for if they commit a crime that they get the death penalty.     

lzs
lzs

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lzs
lzs

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lzs
lzs

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abrellbama
abrellbama

@Guest 

Debra Milke sublet a room from James Styers and paid him rent.  They shared expenses, that was it.  He was in fact her sister's friend, that is how she had met him.  I believe she is innocent while the other 2 are the guilty party.  I think Styers killed her son for the life insurance money and was planning on killing her when the check came in.  This whole mess could have very well saved her life even though it has been a horrible nightmare for her.

Afriend
Afriend

Interesting. The record shows that police changed the story of what actually happened (five to seven shots were fired originally - not three). Also, the timeline the state came up with is in harsh conflict with all police records. How can you sustain a call for execution then? http://youtu.be/dOXmdwoctic

vinceclortho1
vinceclortho1

Actually, the whole basis for the rehearing was that the 9th Circuit thought the Arizona Supreme Court had not considered evidence to PTSD (which is a mental condition).

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