Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mom freed after bad child abuse conviction

I often post about men who are falsely accused, but I also post about women. CNN reports about such a mom:
After 22 years on death row, Debra Milke is close to freedom.

A jury convicted the Arizona woman, now 49, of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping on October 12, 1990, less than a year after her 4-year-old son was found dead.

A judge sentenced her to death a few months later.

But those convictions and the related sentence were tossed out Thursday by a federal appeals court judge. In explaining his decision, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals chided the prosecution for remaining "unconstitutionally silent" on the "history of misconduct" of its key witness, a Phoenix police detective.

"The Constitution requires a fair trial," Kozinski wrote. "This never happened in Milke's case." ...

In fact, "no other witnesses or direct evidence (linked) Milke to the crime" other than Saldate's testimony. After pleading not guilty, Milke stood trial and tried to convince a jury that her account -- and not the detective's -- was the true one.

"The trial was, essentially, a swearing contest between Milke and ... Saldate," said Kozinski. ...

There was no recording of the interrogation, no one else was in the room or watching from a two-way mirror, and Saldate said he threw away his notes shortly after completing his report.

"The judge and jury believed Saldate," said Kozinski of the verdict and sentence. "But they didn't know about Saldate's long history of lying under oath and other misconduct."
The first problem is that hte authorities are way too quick to blame a parent for child abuse. Second, no police confession should ever be admitted as evidence unless it was recorded. Third, the judge and prosecutors snowed the jury. Fourth, the worthless appeals court rubber-stamped this conviction. And finally, the federal courts (including Kozinski) sat on this case for many years before deciding to take action.

1 comment:

Bob Wallace said...

There was a case in St. Louis about 20 years ago where a woman was sentenced to life (I believe) for poisoning her infant with anti-freeze. The "expert" said so! Turned out the child has some of weird disease that mimicked anti-freeze poisoning, so she was released.