On December 2, 1989, every mother’s worst fear became a reality for Debra Jean Milke: her son, 4-year-old Christopher Conan Milke, disappeared.  Unfortunately, this was just the first nightmare for Debra - it was about to get much worse.

 

Debra had allowed her son to go to the mall to meet Santa with her roommate James Lynn Styers and his friend, Roger Mark Scott.  Later that day, James filed a missing child report indicating Christopher had disappeared while they were at the mall.  The following day, during a police interview, Roger confessed to knowing where Christopher’s body was buried and to being present when James shot and killed him.  According to the two men, they murdered Christopher at the request of his mother, who did not want the child anymore or for him to live with his father.  Christopher’s death would also lead to a payout of his life insurance.

 

Armando Saldate, Jr., a former detective with the Phoenix Police Department, questioned Debra shortly after her son’s disappearance.  There were no witnesses during the questioning and it was not recorded.  According to the detective, Debra confessed to the crime, however she did not provide a written statement, nor did she sign one written by the detective.  She was convicted and sentenced to death on January 18, 1991, on the testimony of Detective Saldate.  The two men, who were also convicted of murder and sentenced to death, refused to testify against Debra.

 

Since then, a federal court has affirmed that now-retired Detective Saldate has a history of misconduct by lying under oath and/or violated suspects’ rights.  After nearly 20 years, an appeals court determined that there was no evidence that Debra had voluntarily waived her Miranda rights, therefore her alleged confession was inadmissible in court.  Debra was granted a new trial. She was released on bond, with an ankle monitor, in 2013.

 

On Monday, March 23, 2015, 24 years after she was sentenced to death, all charges against Debra were formally dismissed.  Her ankle monitor was also removed.  She is now suing the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and numerous other individuals for violation of her civil rights, being denied a fair trial, and malicious prosecution.

  

Please pray for Debra.

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