On December 11, an Arizona appeals court dismissed the charges against Debra Jean Milke and barred her retrial due to misconduct.

Milke spent 22 years on death row for arranging the murder of her 4-year-old son in 1989.  She was the first woman sentenced to death in Arizona since 1932.  In 2013, her conviction was called into question by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.  Her conviction relied almost solely on Detective Armando Saldate’s testimony that she confessed to him.  She denied confessing and maintained her innocence.  There was no recording or other witnesses.  The two men who killed her son are still on death row and never testified at trial.

The court overturned her conviction and ordered a new trial because the prosecution withheld misconduct committed by their star witness, Saldate.  Saldate previously lied under oath among other things.

In its ruling on Thursday, the state court said it granted Milke’s request for dismissal, “because of the state’s severe, egregious prosecutorial misconduct in failing to disclose impeachment evidence.”

Maricopa County prosecutors plan to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.


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