Saturday, October 20, 2012

It’s Finally Time For Me To Publish a book about the Uncertain Plight of Debra Milke


Phoenix, AZ—This December it will be 24 years that I have chased this story and all of the various court proceedings for television and print news organizations in four nations.  I’ve been twice to Europe in connection with a documentary film shown at the Human Right’s Film Festival in Geneva.   I also was called to testify as a witness on Debra Milke’s behalf at a 2009 hearing in the U.S. District Court in Arizona.
This is a sordid tale of the senseless and horrifying murder of a four-year old boy, Christopher Milke.  The two men responsible for his kidnapping and murder are on Arizona’s Death Row and are in the 11th hour of the appeals.   There is no question about these two killers or their involvement in the murder.
A Phoenix cop, Armando Saldate fabricated a confession he attributed to the boy’s young mother, Debra Milke.  That bogus confession became the only evidence linking Milke to the crime.  I know it was manufactured because I interviewed Milke just hours later in the receiving room of the Maricopa County, AZ Jail with a hidden tape recorder.  This woman was beyond adamant about her innocence and desire for a lawyer.  That alleged confession caused a jury to guess that Saldate’s version of events was somehow the true one.  Debra Milke was quickly sentenced to die in the Gas Chamber.
Aside from the rogue cop, there was a litany of massive legal blunders by defense lawyers that has caused Milke to a face her yet uncertain date with the executioner.

Saldate was ordered by a supervisor to tape Milke’s interview but claimed that Debra did not want her interview tape-recorded.   Milke insists that she rejected the entire idea of an interview and asked for an attorney.   The saddest fact of all is that none of her defense attorneys ever bothered to ask Saldate in court why he did not use a hidden recording device like I did.  The glaring truth is that Phoenix cops surreptitiously record suspects on audio and video everyday.  Had that question been asked, anything Saldate could have said would have exposed his nefarious intentions and actions.

In the two decades since that day in 1989, Milke has languished on Death Row.  She’s doing the hardest possible time in a prison that’s unprotected from the scorching desert heat.
The criminal appeals process, in and of itself is torture, as this innocent woman must deal with her shocking and miserable existence.  Milke has experienced thousands of bad meals, degrading strip searches and incredible loneliness along with the constant threat of being killed.  Outside of very rare attorney’s visits Milke never feels the warmth of another human hand with her own. 
Debra Milke was not my friend, a family member or anyone I should care about.   She is merely a needy stranger that has haunted my soul for a very long time. The truth of the matter anyone of us could have been forced into her shoes.  If we don’t protect Debra Milke’s rights who can we expect to protect ours?
I’m now shopping my outline and hope to see this shocking story published soon.   There have been two books published already.  One was in German and the other in French.  I will be doing mine in English.
Here are two videos that shed light on this sad case: 




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say, barring any other information, as we would say in Chicago, this woman was "Sandbagged".

Overzealous "Machismo" seems a big part of it. Many call themselves "Detectives", few truly are.