Condemned by ‘word’ of police
News updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Debra Jean Milke has been sitting on Arizona’s death row for nearly 20 years, largely because a police detective said she confessed to plotting her 4-year-old son’s murder. She was convicted solely on the spurious testimony of a detective who said that Debra confessed to complicity in the murder of her 4 year old son.
Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate said Milke confessed to plotting the boy’s death while they were alone during an unrecorded conversation, making what happened in the interview room a he-said, she-said. Milke was convicted of ordering Christopher’s death for a share of a $5,000 life insurance policy she had taken out on him.
Other than this alleged, unsigned confession, there isn’t a single shred of evidence. The cop “forgot” to record the confession, forgot to ask Debra to sign it, admits that he “lost” his notes during the alleged confession and yet he produced 10 pages of notes which he made up from memory.
She is the only female inmate on death row in Perryville and the only woman now awaiting execution in Arizona. She will be the second woman ever to be killed in the history of the state. She is also the prestige project of former district attorney Grant Woods and, if one is to believe the “Arizona Republic,” the state’s largest daily, she is the most hideous monster in the country: a cold-blooded child killer who had her four-year-old son “executed” for a measly 5,000 dollars from an insurance policy.
On 2nd December 1989, James Lynn Styers and Roger Mark Scott filed a missing child report telling police that his roommate’s son, Christopher Milke (age 4), had disappeared during their visit to a shopping mall.
The following day Scott admitted during a police interview that he had accompanied Styers the previous day to a desert wash in the area where Styers shot and killed Christopher Milke. Styers agreed to provide Scott with $250 to file a social security claim. It was said that he believed he would receive some of Christopher’s $5,000 life insurance policy.
Scott eventually led police to the desert area where they found Christopher Milke’s body. It was alleged that during a police interview, Debra Milke conceded that she had conspired with Styers to have her son killed. Saying that; “it would be better to have her son die than grow up like her husband”.
Debra’s supporters however claim that faulty police investigations ruthlessly culminated in fabricating a case against the young woman and a trial that was an unspeakable miscarriage of justice, all require a serious review of the case.
In 2009 it was announced that Debra could get a new trial, and even her freedom, because the detective involved in charging her with the murder of her son, skipped one of the most basic steps when officers interview suspects; getting them to sign a “Miranda waiver” giving up their right to remain silent.
“You know, I have never seen a case where there has been no signed Miranda waiver,” said Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals during an August 2008 hearing on the case. “I don’t know any place in the civilized world in the last 30 years … where a state has found a waiver of Constitutional rights without a signed waiver.”
Debra’s attorney, Michael Kimerer, said “Our main concern is the fact that I have a client that never confessed and a police detective who said she gave a confession.”There was no tape recorder, no witnesses, nothing. Just his word.”
Richard Dieter, executive director of the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said it’s odd that the Miranda issue is only now coming to the forefront of the case. “It’s kind of criminal justice 101; this is one of the first things you would check at trial or on the first appeal.”
He went on to say; “if it’s true that Milke was denied basic Constitutional rights but ends up being put to death, the case could become a prime example of how the death penalty can be problematic.
Death in the desert (the Debra Milke Story)
5 January 2010