Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Update On the Debra Milke Death Penalty Case

Phoenix, AZ—I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this sad case and it is time for an update.  There is so much more to this case than people seem to remember.  On December 3, 1989 Roger Mark Scott confessed to kidnapping four year-old Christophe Milke and taking him out to a Northwest side desert wash with his boyhood friend James Lynn Styers.  The boy was then shot three times in the back of his head and left in a fetal position.
To this day both Styers and Scott have accused each other of actually shooting the boy.   Their tape-recorded confessions and later trial testimony made it clear that they alone were the ones that carried out this monstrous and shocking crime.  
Their appeals have hit all but the court of last resort, the United States Supreme Court.  The more liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has already rejected their appeals.  Getting help from the more Conservative Supreme Court is just not a good bet.  Sometime before the summer recess Supreme Court may simply refuse to hear either man’s case.  That would likely end in both of their executions before the summer is out.
Debra Milke was convicted on the claim of a cop, Armando Saldate that she confessed to him that she wanted her son dead and “authorized” the killing.   The cop made sure there was no tape recorders or witnesses to his interview with Milke. 
It was just hours later that I interviewed Milke in the receiving area of the Madison Street Jail with a hidden tape recorder.  Milke adamantly and somewhat angrily denied being involved or making any kind of an incriminating statement to anyone.  Milke had no communication with anyone other than cops before I talked with her.
Let me make this clear I went there at the request of Channel 10 television news for this interview.  I was hoping to get a confession.  Had she confessed to Saldate, she certainly would have confessed to me.   At a minimum she’d have either minimized her involvement or simply not talk about it.  Most suspects confess or tell whopping lies that can be disproven.  That did not happen with Milke.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has already found fault with Saldate’s interrogation of Milke, at least in the area of her Fifth Amendment rights under Miranda vs. Arizona.  They’ve yet to make a final ruling and could hold off beyond the summer recess of the Supreme Court.   We can only guess what the ruling might be.
I should also tell you that Saldate’s favorite method of interrogation never involves tape recorders.  He has a private chat with the accused and then the courts and juries have to guess just who told the truth after he claims to have gotten a confession.  Was it the cop, or the suspect?  We all know what’s the answer to than question.  
Milke’s current appeal lawyers are apparently planning to introduce one or more significant new issues that have not yet been litigated.  We can only hope that this woman is not put to death on such flimsy evidence as Saldate’s testimony.
On a side note, they tried to give Roger Scott a sweet plea bargain, if he’d offer testimony that would involve Milke.  He refused to do so.  Scott and Milke were never well acquainted or fond of each other.  Scott had nothing to lose and a lot to gain but I suspect that he felt that kind of a lie would get exposed.
Saldate claimed that using a tape recorder would inhibit suspects and prevent them from giving him a candid interview.  How lame is that?  Police learned from the beginning of the invention of tape recorders to conceal them from view.  I had no problem using a hidden tape recorder for an interview with Milke.
Unfortunately for Milke I was never asked to testify at Debra Milke’s trial.  I could have opened the eyes of the jury and they could have listened to that tape recording. It just didn’t happen because Milke had an ineffective lawyer.   Had I been called and the tape subpoenaed the verdict would have been a lot different. 
As for all Milke’s lawyers, not one of them ever thought to ask Saldate why he did not use a hidden tape recorder.  Saldate would not have been able to answer that with a straight face.  There are loads of these devices kept in police lockers everywhere in the world including Phoenix.
On December 3rd Debra Milke will have been held in solitary confinement for 24 solid years.  Thousands of horrible prison meals and degrading strip searches later she still suffers every day on Arizona’s Death Row.   It’s time for this woman to get what she has left of her life returned.

On a side note Arizona has already killed six prisoners in 2012 and is about to execute another within a few weeks.  They are deadly serious about Capital Punishment in this state. 


Anonymous said...

HI Paul!

I voted against the death penalty recently in California, because the judicial and prosecutorial system here and in America is often corrupt.

Innocent people can easily get nailed by corrupt prosecutors and a corrupt judicial system, especially if someone in power is unethical & wants to abuse their power and/or has something to gain and/or something to hide at the expense of the innocent accused..

Sometimes someone on the outside wants to nail an innocent for their crime and succeeds. All of this is written in the civil rights law of America which currently is defunct.

Debra Milke's life should be spared.

Michael Murphy said...

March 15, 2013. Case overturned by 9th Circuit. Corruption on the part of both the detective and the prosecution cited. Reversal written by a Reagan appointee. Retrial or acquittal is next.

Michael Murphy said...

March 15, 2013: Conviction overturned by the 9th. Circuit. Corruption alleged against both the detective and the prosecution. Scathing reversal was written by a Reagan appointee and well known Libertarian. Retrial or acquittal is next.