In a scathing critique of Arizona's criminal justice system, a state appeals court on Thursday ordered the dismissal of murder charges against a woman who spent 22 years on death row for the killing of her 4-year-old son.They did not prove her innocence. They just showed that the main police witness had credibility problems tainting the trial.
The Arizona Court of Appeals leveled harsh criticism against prosecutors over their failure to turn over evidence during Debra Jean Milke's trial about a detective with a long history of misconduct and lying. The court called prosecutors' actions "a severe stain on the Arizona justice system."
A three-judge panel of the appeals court said it agreed with Milke's argument that a retrial would amount to double jeopardy.
Authorities say Milke dressed her son in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. He was then taken into the desert near Phoenix by two men and shot in the back of the head.This is weird. Who shoots a 4-year-old, gangster execution style? Who gets a confession without recording it?
Prosecutors claimed Milke's motive was that she didn't want the child anymore and didn't want him to live with his father.
She was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to death. The case rested largely on her purported confession to Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate, which he did not record. ...
Milke has maintained her innocence and denied she ever confessed to the killing. The two men who led her child to his death in the desert were convicted of murder but refused to testify against Milke. ...
Prosecutors insist Milke is guilty, but their ability to try her again was limited by the fact that Saldate said he wouldn't testify. He fears potential federal charges based on the 9th Circuit's accusations of misconduct.
In December, Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz granted Saldate's request to assert his Fifth Amendment right, allowing him to refuse to take the stand.
Maybe the cop was genuinely convinced that she did it, but confessions need to be recorded. If I were on the jury, I would be very suspicious of an unrecorded confession.
Parents should be given the benefit of the doubt with their own kids. If she is truly innocent, then the prosecutors just double the tragedy when they prosecute. They should only prosecute when they have an airtight case against the parent.
Foster parents do bad things, but that is different, as in this recent Canadian conviction.
Of course this may have never happened if the dad had joint custody in the first place.