Debra Milke's Overturned Conviction for Killing Son in '89 to Be Appealed by AZ Attorney General Tom Horne

Categories: Death Row

milke mug shot.JPG
Image: Arizona Department of Corrections
Debra Milke

Debra Milke, on Death Row since her 1990 conviction for conspiring to have her 4-year-old son killed in 1989, won't be released from prison anytime soon.

The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Milke's conviction yesterday, raising the possibility that she could be set free in 30 days. But today, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced he definitely will appeal the court's decision, which means Milke isn't going anywhere -- for now.

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

See also: Debbie Milke Was Convicted of Murdering Her Own Child, Now She May Win Her Freedom (or, At Least, a New Trial)

Horne's office released an e-mail today stating:

We will be appealing this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court takes the appeal, I will argue it personally as I have done in two previous cases over the past five months. In my last case, the Supreme Court accepted my argument and overruled the Ninth Circuit's decision unanimously. In this case, Ms. Milke was found to have arranged the killing of her own son, a four-year-old toddler, because he was too much of a burden and interfering with her life. After dressing him up and telling him he was going to the mall to see Santa Claus, Milke was convicted of sending her young son off to be shot, execution style, in a desert wash. This is a horrible crime. The Ninth Circuit's decision needs to be reversed, and justice for Christopher needs to be served.


The Ninth's decision centers on the credibility of a key witness in the case, former Phoenix police detective Armando Saldate. The cop had claimed that Milke waived her Miranda rights and confessed to the conspiracy to have Christopher killed by two male acquaintances, Jim Styers and Roger Scott (who were also sentenced to death row). Allegations later surfaced that the cop had lied to grand juries previously and somehow had managed to extract confessions from unconscious suspects.

Milke was never accused of actually carrying out the crime. Scott, who cracked after many hours of interrogation, told police that he and Styers took the kid to Peter Piper Pizza, then told him they were going to look for snake holes in the desert. In a desert wash at 99th Avenue and Happy Valley Road, Styers fired three bullets into the back of Christopher's head.

Milke was implicated in the plot by Scott, as a 1991 New Times article describes:


Debbie had promised Styers most of the $5,000 from a life insurance policy on Christopher, Scott confessed. Scott was to be paid $250 for driving the getaway car. The men left Christopher's body where it would eventually be discovered.

Debra Milke in 1991 during interviews with the New Times.

The 1991 article describes how Milke's seemingly cold-hearted personality on the witness stand helped convince the jury she was guilty. Detective Saldate didn't record Milke's alleged confession, but he testified that she told him, "I just made a bad judgment call. I'm just an emotionally troubled 25-year-old girl who needs help in dealing with her problems."

Without Milke's involvement as a potential motive for Styers and Scott, the men's murder of a 4-year-old doesn't make much sense.

But if the case goes to another jury and Detective Saldate's testimony can't be used, an implied motive and the testimony of Scott may or may not be enough to re-convict Milke.

The first paragraph of Horne's statement suggests the state Attorney General knows how to steer the U.S. Supreme Court his way. If he's right about that, Milke won't get her second chance at freedom.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
scubadude1960
scubadude1960

Tom Horne and Armando Saldate should be put on death row for 20 years and then executed. Along with all the politicians who make our corrupt system possible.

EleanorRigby
EleanorRigby

Even though it's not a deathrow case, just the discussion of innocent people who have been rotting away in prison always brings me back to the Courtney Bisbee case. It never ceases to amaze me all the people who know damn well she is innocent, from the top down, and yet no one will help her. Even her accuser and his family have now come forward to admit that they lied, and those lies were the only shred of evidence needed to put that poor woman away for years. If you have ever met Courtneys mom, just talking to her for a few minutes, you begin to understand how it has impacted that entire family. She has devoted her entire life to helping others who's lives have been completely destroyed by AZ's unjustice system.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

What is this crminal doing still out of prison.........Fng Horny Toad should be in prison for His hit and run since it was witnessed by two FBI agents, what the fuck is wrong? He wants the Law to be upholded for everybody else but not for Him. He should MAN UP and face the consequences instead of "hiding" under his position as AG. Fgn Wabbit Hunter.

marcy
marcy

It isn't clear that Milke is innocent but it's crystal clear that Saldate was an accomplished liar, not surprising for a cop because all cops lie.

The most grievous error any jury can make is to assume that a cop is more credible than a dime bag junkie.  Cops lie for a living and do so with such frequency that it is entirely possible that they are incapable of telling the difference between what they say and the truth.

sarum
sarum

http://www.crimefilenews.com/2010/11/whats-ahead-for-debra-milke-on-arizonas.html

http://www.debbiemilke.com/

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/03/15/5266624/arizona-woman-reviled-for-sons.html

"On Monday, I sat next to Swiss documentary filmmaker Jacques Secretan when a shackled, gray-haired Milke was escorted into the courtroom.

"In all these years, this is her first time out of death row," whispered Secretan, who believes that Milke is innocent."

https://sites.google.com/site/chilrenstempletepages/God-Bless-Our-Lost-Angels/4-year-old-christopher-milke

MandyMountain
MandyMountain

" If the Court takes the appeal, I will argue it personally as I have done in two previous cases over the past five months." Sounds like she'll beat the rap. Horne is such an egomaniac.  She's been in the slammer for well over two decades, though. Guilty or not she's done some serious time.

gerry_c
gerry_c

Horne has an ego at big as AARPaio.  This is an area of law that I don't believe he has aggressively practiced.  Better to hire someone that knows where to step.

david_saint01
david_saint01

lol nice to see Horne taking time from his affair and hit and run case to actually do his job for once! Ditch the arrogance though tom, lol its not a certain victory..though, i wont mind if he gets egg on his face. I dont know enough about the case to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, but from what I have read thus far the detective was known to be dirty, and it hinges on his credibility...so it doesnt look good. 

david_saint01
david_saint01

@truthseekeraz lol that would be too much work for him, and wouldnt score him the big political victory hes looking for...

Bnbk
Bnbk

@MandyMountain Of course he will,anything to divert attention away from his misdeeds.

TaxpayingVoter
TaxpayingVoter

@gerry_c As far as I can tell, Horne is the biggest idiot in a land of idiots that I've come across in a while.

Why in HELL would he try to interfere in such a case while trying to look less like the asshole he is in defending his OWN issues?  It just seems he's doing his best to make himself look worse.

sarum
sarum

@truthseekeraz "Milke may well be guilty, even if Saldate made up her

confession out of whole cloth. After all, it’s hard to

understand what reason Styers and Scott would have had for

killing a four-year-old boy. Then again, what reason would

they have to protect her if they know she’s guilty?"

from your above linked document

I believe this guy's explanation on his site:  http://www.crimefilenews.com/2010/11/whats-ahead-for-debra-milke-on-arizonas.html

"Styers had suggested that they (he and Milke) could move in an apartment together and he would be Christopher’s day care provider. There was no romance other than Styer’s designs that were always rebuffed by Milke. They had different bedrooms. Styers had the use of Milke’s car during the day and as he consumed anything found inside the refrigerator. This was far from the best arrangement for Milke and her son but few single moms have ideal lives.

One day Milke had finally found and new and better paying job at the John Alden Life Insurance Company across town in Tempe, AZ. She could now afford to move into her own two bedroom apartment and obtained licensed daycare for her son.

This move would turn Styer’s world upside down. No more use of the car, or other freeloading off of Milke. Any chance Styer’s had to develop romance with Milke was fading fast."



Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...