Thursday, March 14, 2013

Debra Milke’s Convictions and Death Sentence reversed By Federal Appeals Court

Debra Milke is 49 years-old now.
San Francisco, CA—In a stunning opinion the court reversed the convictions and death sentence of Debra Milke. 
As most of my readers know I’ve investigated the Debra Milke case from her arrest on December 3, 1989 to the present.  Over the decades I have done this as an investigative freelance TV producer/reporter.  I have produced stories with Arizona’s TV stations, A&E American Justice and over a half-dozen European media organizations. I have worked with a Swiss Documentary producer making and showing a film for the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival.
I have never once wavered in my belief that Milke never confessed to police or that she was actually part of a conspiracy to murder her four-year old son Christopher.  I interview her with a hidden tape recorder only hours after Phoenix Police Detective Armando Saldate claimed Milke confessed to him.
Several days after my interview with Milke, a supplementary report was filed by Saldate wherein he alleged she confessed to him.  The timing just does not jive. 
The issue before the court seemed to be whether Milke waived her right to an attorney before confessing.  There was no waiver but more importantly there was no confession!  Today in a stunning opinion the court made it clear that they doubt Saldate’s confession and that the prosecutors hid evidence about Saldate’s past perjury, false reports and other egregious misconduct in violation of long established court rules.
The ordered a new trial but the so-called confession may still be an issue.  The difficult part here is that confession was and is the only evidence that ever existed linking Milke to her son’s murder.  If the confession is allowed all of Saldate's prior misconduct will also be handed to the jury.  Prosecutor’s now have very little to present to a new jury.  This looks like Debra Milke may be going free. 
The ball is now in the Arizona Attorney General’s court because he must decide whether to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  With the case record as we now know it would seem unlikely they would actually hear the prosecutor’s appeal.   
For the first time I’m cautiously optimistic that Milke may go free in the coming months perhaps short of another year.  I’m hopeful she’s escaped the awful specter of the lethal injection!
In all my years I don’t recall such a strong statement made about the misconduct of cops, supervisors and prosecutors as the court made today by this court.
I have a completed feature film screenplay about this travesty and my years of observing this injustice. It looks like I will now have to add a happy ending.
Happy?  I don’t know what could be happy about Debra Milke sitting in solitary confinement on Death Row for nearly a quarter of a century.  The thousand of degrading and humiliating strip searches, bad meals and unbearable Arizona summers without air conditioning have definitely made a impact of this poor woman.
When she’s freed her job skills will be antiquated, her contributions to retirement and Social Security non-existent and she undoubtedly at age 49 has learned about menopause.  I hope she can find happiness, laughs and a rewarding way to spend her remaining years on this earth.

Here is the actual Court ruling and videos:


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you definitely called this one right. My hat is off to you Paul.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul for helping this lady.

I know about injustice alright

But not nearly as bad as what this lady has been through.

Well done all of you who helped.

You did good Paul.

What wonderful news which

brings joy to my heart!

Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw this on CNN, I thought of you. I know how long you have championed her innocence all these years so congratulations. Best wishes Vicki aka ChrissyB from DaRefugees.

Anonymous said...

One would think that with the prosecutorial misconduct and perjury that she would be entitled to a tidy sum for her decades of suffering..

JeremyR said...

They should not have vacated her cell. They should have switched her for Saldate, and let him serve out the remainder of the sentence.
saldate comitted attempted murder, kidnapping, slander, and a long long list. May he rot in hell for his evil ways. He does all police a diservice by his criminal actions.

Anonymous said...

Judge Kosinski seemed to concur with himself at the end of his decision.

I thought this was important from his decision and how he came to it.

In the words of 9th Circuit Chief Judge Kosinski from the decision.

"It’s not just fairness to the defendant that calls for an objectively verifiable process for securing confessions and other evidence in criminal cases.

WE ALL HAVE A STAKE in ensuring that our criminal justice system reliably separates the guilty from the innocent.

Letting police get away with manufacturing confessions or planting evidence not only risks convicting the innocent (OR RESULTING IN POLICE BRUTALITY AND WASTING INNOCENT PEOPLES LIVES)


Could the people of Arizona feel confident in taking Milke’s life when the only thread on which her conviction hangs is the word of a policeman with a record of dishonesty and disrespect for the law?

Bad cops, and those who tolerate them, put all of us in an untenable position.

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?

But I seriously doubt the jury would have convicted Milke without the purported confession.

Indeed, without the confession,there’s not enough evidence to support a conviction. Which is why it’s very important that the confession be reliable and lawfully obtained "

As you know i don't always agree with Judges but I agree with this Judge's decision.

Anonymous said...

Seems like the 9th Circuit decision doesn't want her illegally obtained confession which they say was probably not a confession to be used at any further lower court trials.

"I would reverse the district court’s finding that Milke
knowingly waived her rights under Miranda and Edwards v.
Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981). The “confession,” if it was
obtained at all, was extracted illegally. There can be no
serious claim that admission of the confession was harmless.
I would therefore set aside Milke’s conviction on the separate
ground that it relied on an illegally-obtained confession that
probably never occurred, and bar use of the so-called
confession during any retrial of Milke."