Arizona Woman on Death Row for Two Decades Speaks Out After Exoneration
An Arizona woman who spent two decades on death row after being charged in the death of her 4-year-old son spoke out today - the first public comments since a judge dismissed her case on Monday.
Debra Milke, 51, was convicted of murder in 1990 in the killing of her son Christopher in December 1989. However, the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal overturned Milke's conviction in 2013, ruling that prosecutors withheld a detective's history of misconduct while her conviction was based entirely on an alleged confession she gave to him.
Multiple court rulings in other cases said that the detective, Armando Saldate, either lied under oath or violated suspects' rights during interrogations.
Milke and her lawyers shared their observations at a news conference today as they recounted their experiences over the years.
"I had absolutely nothing to do with the brutal murder of my son and I did not give a confession," Milke said today. "The only thing equally worse [than losing a child] is to be falsely accused of the death of your child."
Mike Kimerer, Milke's attorney who took over her case 15 years ago, said that he took over her case because he believed she was innocent, since the only evidence available was a confession coming from what he described as a discredited cop.
"It started in December 1989 when she was arrested and ultimately falsely convicted to have conspired to kill her son," Kimerer said. "She spent 22 years on death row. … She can now have the life which she was deprived of for 24 years."
Kimerer gave credit to his co-counsel on the case, Lori Voepel, whom he said was instrumental in finding more evidence against the detective.
In a brief hearing on Monday, Judge Rosa Mroz not only dismissed the case and exonerated her, but also allowed Milke, who has been free on bond since 2013, to have her electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet removed.