Retrying a woman released from death row after an appeals court overturned her conviction in her son’s 1989 killing would amount to double jeopardy, her attorneys wrote in a motion recently filed.  Debra Milke was released on September 6th on bond.  She was convicted in 1990 based upon charges that she had two men take her 4-year-old son, Christopher, into the desert and execute him.  She was subsequently sentenced to death.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Milke’s conviction in March.  The panel cited the prosecution’s failure to turn over impeachment evidence, which deprived Milke’s attorneys the ability to challenge the credibility of the state’s key witness, a detective who claimed to the jury Milke confessed.  This confession is not documented and is based solely on the word of the detective.

The court also found that Milke didn’t waive her right to have an attorney present during her interrogation as Saldate had claimed.  Milke’s defense attorneys say that because her conviction was overturned, at least in part, because of the prosecution’s failure to turn over evidence of Detective Armando Saldate’s checkered past, a retrial would violate her 5th Amendment rights.

“Saldate’s credibility was central at Milke’s 1990 trial, and the state’s failure to disclose impeachment evidence of his misconduct was a clearly improper method used to convict,” defense attorneys wrote

In its ruling, the appeals court scornfully pointed out Saldate’s numerous misconduct instances, including several where judges had to throw out alleged confessions and indictments because Saldate lied under oath or violated Constitutional rights.  Maricopa County State Attorney Bill Montgomery has unsurprisingly dismissed the appeals court’s ruling and insists that the allegations against Saldate are not correct.  He accused the court of falsities and also referred to their findings as “grandiose mischaracterizations.”

Milke’s attorneys say that had Saldate’s distrustful record been revealed to jurors, it “very likely could have changed the outcome of this case and kept Ms. Milke from serving 23 years in prison.”

The two men convicted of killing Milke’s son didn’t testify at her trial and are still on death row.  Saldate’s attorney told the judge he plans on asserting his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination if he were asked to testify at Milke’s retrial.  A December 6th hearing has been set during which Judge Rose Mroz plans to hear arguments from boths sides and Saldate before determining whether he would be allowed not to testify.  Mroz made it clear previously that if Saldate doesn’t testify, the alleged confession, cannot be used.  Milke’s retrial has been tentatively set for February 2, 2015.

  1. Lon Spector says:

    It IS double jeopardy. But that won’t stop them.


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