|Armando Saldate at Debra Milke's 1990 trial|
Phoenix, AZ—Armando Saldate is a cop with an incredibly checkered career. He’s escaped prosecution twice for felony extortion. That includes his first offense where he finally confessed after initial denials and a failed polygraph examination. In Arizona where the custom is to be unusually tough on crime they did not indict, prosecute or imprison Saldate but simply suspended him for five days.
Saldate claimed Debra Milke confessed to him that she somehow orchestrated two men to murder her four-year old son, Christopher. That confession was the sole evidence that put Milke on Death Row. Milke has consistently maintained her innocence since the day of her arrest.
Saldate wound up as a homicide detective who developed a method to fabricate confessions he’d claim he obtained from suspects. In an age where police had been using recording devices both overt and covert for more than five decades Saldate shunned documenting his interrogations through any form of electronic recording. Instead he’d conduct his interviews in private and would later produce a report with his fictional accounts of confessions he claimed to have heard. Saldate would later falsely testify under oath at Grand Jury proceedings and trials.
Finally Saldate was exposed in a blistering 60-page opinion rendered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court referred the entire sordid matter to the Justice Department for an investigation of the violation of Debra Milke’s Civil Rights by Saldate and members of the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.
Saldate has the absolute right to decline to provide any testimony in the retrial of Debra Milke. He is after all under criminal investigation. No competent defense attorney would ever advise him to do more that invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment. Saldate could then easily avoid as much as three grueling days of embarrassing testimony and cross-examination. There will of course be the salacious media reports about the details of his not so glamorous past. I suspect this retrial will be televised live since it is a really high profile case.
Saldate can avoid a certain bloodbath as his reputation is examined, dissected and broadcast to his family, friends, neighbors, and former co-workers. Saldate’s testimony and the fallout is sure to be a permanent dark cloud over him and his family until he leaves this world.
I fully expect that federal investigators looking for the slightest inconsistencies will scrutinize every recorded word out of Saldate’s mouth. Additionally as what happens in such cases informants will surface that will sink Saldate’s ship.
Frankly I don’t expect Saldate to take the witness stand again in any proceedings criminal or civil involving Debra Milke.