Debra Milke's Convictions Overturned in Son's Murder, After Two Decades on Death Row

debbie-milke.jpg
Debbie Milke
The convictions and death sentence of Debbie Milke -- who's been on death row in Arizona for more than two decades in her son's murder -- have been overturned by a federal appeals court.

Milke's 4-year-old son, Christopher, went "missing" in December 1989 after a friend and a roommate took the boy "to see Santa" at the Metrocenter mall.

See also:
-Death Row Debbie
-Milke Was Convicted of Murdering Her Own Child, Now She May Win Her Freedom
-Casey Anthony Murder Trial Eerily Reminiscent of Phoenix's Debbie Milke Case

Instead, her roommate Jim Styers and his buddy Roger Scott took the boy out to a wash near 99th Avenue and Happy Valley Road and shot him three times in the head.

Using an alleged confession from Milke that came out during an unrecorded interview with a Phoenix homicide detective, Milke was sentenced to die and is one of just three women on death row in Arizona.

As former New Times scribe Paul Rubin reported, a federal appellate panel said, "There is 'no evidence' that Milke 'voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently' waived her Miranda rights before allegedly confessing to Detective [Armando] Saldate."

(Talk about timing: The Phoenix Police Department had a little memorial Wednesday for the 50th anniversary of PPD arresting Ernesto Miranda, the man whose case eventually established the "Miranda warning.")

Rubin cited a federal court judge who said, "I don't know any place in the civilized world in the last 30 years where a state has found a waiver of constitutional rights without a signed waiver."

Although Milke's appeals have been ongoing for years, the panel threw out the convictions today, primarily citing that "the state remained unconstitutionally silent instead of disclosing information about [Detective] Saldate's history of misconduct and accompanying court orders and disciplinary action."

Alex Kozinski, chief judge for the Ninth Circuit U.S.Court of Appeals, absolutely slams the conviction of Milke, starting on page 54 of the opinion.

Prosecutors could re-try Milke, and if they choose not to (within 30 days), she'll be released from prison.


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16 comments
forest4thetrees
forest4thetrees

Truthseekeraz has got that right!!  Or look at the docket for this case.  Wonder why she had to sit in prison for 2 decades - why her previous TWO habeas corpus petitions to the Ninth Circuit were denied - why THIS case has been pending since 2010?   This is absolute BS - its all a big CYA and damage control on steroids.  And don't believe what you read about the big bad DA - he's suing as we speak.  Since when does a judge concur with his own opinion???

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Innocent but sent to prison for years for a heinous crime they did not commit.

The Central Park Five: A Still Relevant Call for Change   Posted: 12/12/2012 10:42 am

"A new documentary by David McMahon, Sarah and Ken Burns, The Central Park Five, recounts the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of five African-American and Latino teenagers following the highly publicized 1989 assault and rape of a white 28-year-old Upper East Side investment banker in what came to be known as the Central Park Jogger Case. There was no evidence linking the boys to the crime, save for confused, coerced, later recanted confessions that turned out to be false. Semen found at the scene was not a DNA match to any of them. In 2003 -- years after four of the five had completed their sentences -- a New York City judge vacated the charges after another man voluntarily confessed and his DNA was matched to the crime scene.

However this is unfortunately not a story of redemption: the New York City Police Department refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing in the case despite the obvious illegalities of the investigation, which included bringing 16-year-old Kharey Wise to the crime scene and attempting to trick him into leaving DNA traces behind, according to Mr. Wise and Yusef Salaam during a Q&A session following a screening of the film. At least one of the prosecutors refuses to even admit that she convicted the wrong guys and the city stubbornly fights a civil suit brought by the five for compensation for the 40 years they collectively spent behind bars for a crime they did not commit. The film also digs into the parallel stories of a racist and retributive public opinion that so quickly condemned the innocent teenagers and the corporate media's facilitation of this atrocity that, once combined, rip the veneer off any idea of a post-racial U.S. of A."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nick-malinowski/central-park-five-film_b_2248799.html

arizonacitizen
arizonacitizen

I hope that they decide to do another trial. This case has been on my family's mind all these years.My son and daughter are the same age Christopher would have been now. My son refused to see Santa after this story first came on the news. Whenever we pass by the area where he was found we say a prayer for poor Christopher. Lets remember a little boy in his cowboy boots who thought he was going to see Santa was brought out into the desert and killed. This is about him, not a dirty cop. 

MGM5
MGM5

Once again the "Ultra Liberal" 9th. circuit thankfully steps in and saves Arizona's ass. The Milke trial was quite possibly the most corrupt undertaking of jurisprudence in the state's history. And that's saying something! No matter how you feel about the guilt or innocence of this woman, it is a scandalous fact that she did not even come close to receiving a fair trial. Read the 9th. circuit brief. It's on line... and it's all there.  In black and white.  

lancechendrickson
lancechendrickson

How can the people of Arizona read this case without starting an effort to repeal their death-penalty statutes tomorrow?  One lying cop can have someone killed on the taxpayers' dime?  Scary, man.  Scary.

kelly5882000
kelly5882000

I think she did have that poor little boy killed, he was an inconvenience to her. Karma will get her eventually. She probably sleeps well at night since the evil bitch has no soul.

Betty's Bail Bonds
Betty's Bail Bonds

How very sad! What was determined today...could have and should have been determined years ago :(

sggrange
sggrange

Only folks who think courts aren't corrupt are those that have never had dealings with a court.

boomer1949
boomer1949

So is Saldate in prison for his lying or did he clear the stain on his family's name by eating his gun?


david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

lol be mad at the cop for breaking the rules and causing this to happen...nice to see the system still works, even if it helps such a horrible person...now we find out if Monty pug has the stuff to put her away again..your move monty, if you arent too busy going after mothers and fathers trying to feed their families.  

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

In Arizona and Maricopa County, it is well established, that minorities are targeted, and handled with rush to judgment, lack of due process in the "system". In Arizona, women are a minority group, subordinate to men and considered disposable by the misogynous men who drive state policy. This alone, impacts receiving fair justice in Arizona.

In Debra Milke's case, she has a dirty cop, (PHX PD pattern of misconduct and bias), an ex-husband, a boyfriend and his friend pointing the finger at one another and an AG (politician) politicizing justice for political gain, "I'll personally take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court" (why not a qualified Federal prosecutor?).

In Debra Milke's conviction, dating back to 1991, by the same prosecutors who sent an innocent man, Ray Krone, to death row, this also creates doubt about her guilt. The corrupt Phoenix police / forensics lab of the day destroyed how many lives?

We have read the 60 page 9th Circuit Court Opinion and concur. It should be a civic duty to read this historic document. Those making comments should read it, then comment.

The Opinion is a scathing court opinion on Arizona's broken criminal justice system and a long pattern of civil rights violations, that impacts ALL. The judges' conclusion is 14 pages. 

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@arizona12341  This case is much larger than your son and a little boy. The state does NOT care about children or families. They only care about children for $$$'s or political gain.

Debra Milke's case, is about people getting fair justice and due process in Arizona's justice system that impacts ALL. 

When the legislators favor mass incarceration of its people over educating them, it is about ALL people, not just the ones they do not like or want.

Arizona is a state that has signed contracts for over 2,000 "new" prison beds that Arizona DOES not need, but will line the pockets of the profiteers who "control" the state and its public policy while the taxpayers foot the bill. 

Dirty cops, prosecutorial misconduct, judges (former prosecutors) turning a blind eye  = $$$'s for the prison profiteers, lawyers, and all those who profit off human misery in Arizona's broken criminal justice system. 

Time to get rid of the Death Penalty. No man should be playing God with peoples' lives, especially the Governor, the AG and MCAO who are politicians who have their eyes on "higher" office and career gain.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@arizona12341  This is about how Arizona's justice system failed not only the little boy but ALL the people. There is a presumption of innocence, due process, following established protocol so law enforcement and prosecutors aren't steam-rolling over the people regardless of how heinous the crime. 

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@MGM5 lol right..and people just want to bitch about the court being so liberal...my GOD, they did their jobs! ready the lynch mob!! hahaha

MGM5
MGM5

@kelly5882000 On the other hand, maybe that lying cop Saldate has some serious karma heading HIS way.

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