|Former Maricopa County Attorney Richard "Rick" Romley|
Phoenix, AZ—The biggest question should be, what the Hell was going on during the Richard "Rick"Romley reign as Maricopa County Attorney?
Inside the indeed shocking 60-page opinion that reversed the convictions and death sentence of Debra Milke handed
down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last Wednesday they used unusually strong language including the following two paragraphs:
“In effect, Saldate turned the interrogation room into a black box, leaving us no objectively verifiable proof as to what happened inside. All we have are the conflicting accounts of a defendant with an obvious reason to lie and a detective whose disdain for lawful process is documented by one instance after another of lying under oath and other misconduct.
No civilized system of justice should have to depend on such flimsy evidence, quite possibly tainted by dishonesty overzealousness, to decide whether to take someone’s life or liberty. The Phoenix Police Department and Saldate’s supervisors there should be ashamed of having given free rein to a lawless cop to misbehave again and again, undermining the integrity of the system of justice they were sworn to uphold. As should the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which continued to prosecute Saldate’s cases without bothering to disclose his pattern of misconduct”
Aside from the scandalous police investigation, prosecution and death sentence of Debra Milke I have worked on all of these other cases for Chanel 10 News in Phoenix, AZ during the same time period as a freelance investigative producer.
I had more than a few doubts about these investigations early on as I watched the following unbelievable nightmares unfold in within just two years of the Debra Milke wrongful conviction.
Buddhist Temple Mass Murder
Near Litchfield Park, AZ In August of 1991 nine members of a Buddhist Temple were murdered including 6 monks. The victims were gunned down in a botched robbery. Based on a tip that came from inside mental hospital. Police arrested 5 young Tucson suspects including their mental patient tipster.
Police quickly sweated false confessions out of four of the five suspects and then prosecutors when on a show trial like crusade demanding the death penalty. In the mean time the guns used in the crime were seized from local lads at Luke Air Force Base. The guns languished waiting for ballistic testing for more than few months. The guns were proven to be the murder weapons and eventually the Tucson lads were against the wishes of then Maricopa County Sheriff Tom Agnos.
Taxpayers paid out over $5 Million in settlements to the innocent Tucson victims. As for the news suspects they escaped Death Row. Sheriff Agnos lost his bid at re-election and soon thereafter committed suicide.
Krone was a simple Air Force veteran and U.S. mail carrier with no criminal record who was caught up in the December 1991 Phoenix murder investigation of a local barmaid.
Krone was tried, convicted and sent to death row for the crime based on fabricated testimony of a so-called human bite expert. Krone eventually won a new trial and was convicted once again.
After massive defense efforts they finally overcame prosecution obstruction and were able to get DNA material from the actual bite tested.
It turned out that the real killer was Kenneth Phillips who already imprisoned for sexually assaulting and choking a 7-year-old girl. At the time of the barmaid’s murder Phillips only lived 600 yards from the murder scene and was on probation for breaking into a neighboring woman's apartment and choking her while threatening to kill her.
Phillips was later convicted but escaped the death penalty. Noel Levy was the trial Prosecutor.
David O Hyde
Convicted and sentenced to the gas chamber for the March 1991 murders of John Lee, Sr., 72 and his 50 year old daughter Ginger Lee at the East Phoenix, Joyland Market.
Police sweated a phony confession out of Hyde. It took some 13 years on death row for presiding Maricopa County Criminal Judge Thomas O’Toole to figure out that Hyde was innocent. Noel Levy was the trial prosecutor.
Hyde was facing a retrial and uncertainty of perhaps as many as two additional years in jail while waiting for a resolution. Hyde accepted a “deal” offered by the prosecutors to plead no contest to 2nd degree murder and get immediate release from jail by being sentenced to tame already served.
Every one of these cases involved the wrongful conviction and death sentence of innocent people. Their lives were ruined and taxpayers were victimized along the way. There was an obvious and nefarious win at any cost obsession present during this time period inside the Richard Romley Administration.
How may more victims are there languishing in Arizona prisons or have already been executed because of manufactured testimony and evidence?