Case tossed vs. woman held 22 years in son’s death!

Case tossed vs. woman held 22 years in son’s death

PHOENIX (AP) – A state appeals court has ordered the dismissal of murder charges against a woman who spent 22 years on Arizona’s death row for the killing of her 4-year-old son.The Arizona Court of Appeals on Thursday leveled harsh criticism against prosecutors over their failure to turn over evidence during Debra Jean Milke’s trial about a detective with a long history of misconduct and lying. The court called prosecutors’ actions “a severe stain on the Arizona justice system.”

A three-judge panel of the appeals court said it agreed with Milke’s argument that a retrial would amount to double jeopardy.

The failure to disclose the evidence “calls into question the integrity of the system and was highly prejudicial to Milke,” the court wrote. “In these circumstances – which will hopefully remain unique in the history of Arizona law – the most potent constitutional remedy is required.”

The court said the charges against Milke in the 1989 death of her son Christopher can’t be refiled, but prosecutors could appeal Thursday’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Authorities say Milke dressed her son in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. He was then taken into the desert near Phoenix by two men and shot in the back of the head.

Authorities say Milke’s motive was that she didn’t want the child anymore and didn’t want him to live with his father.

She was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to death. The case rested largely on her purported confession to Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate, which he did not record.

Milke, 50, was on death row for two decades, and the Arizona Supreme Court had gone so far as to issue a death warrant for Milke in 1997. The execution was delayed because she had yet to exhaust federal appeals.

The appeals court said Thursday it wasn’t expressing an opinion on Milke’s guilt or innocence, though it heavily criticized authorities for staking much of their case on a detective with credibility problems.

A federal appeals court threw out Milke’s first-degree murder conviction in March 2013, saying prosecutors knew about a history of misconduct by the detective but failed to disclose it. Maricopa County prosecutors were preparing for a retrial.

Lori Voepel, Milke’s appellate attorney, was ecstatic at Thursday’s victory.

Milke has been free on bail since September 2013 as she awaited retrial.

“This is really a sock in the gut – it’s a cheap shot,” said Arizona Milke, Christopher’s father and Debra Milke’s ex-husband. “She shouldn’t walk free, because she’s guilty.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office is handling the case, said he plans to ask the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn Thursday’s ruling.

Montgomery said the accusations of misconduct happened well before he took over as the county’s top prosecutor and would not happen today, citing safeguards such as having detectives record interviews with suspects.

Montgomery also said he would not be pursuing the case if he believed the evidence could not lead to a conviction in Christopher’s killing.

“He should not be forgotten in all of this. Justice and due process for Christopher is a right that he has, too,” Montgomery said. “And it’s the job of prosecutors, unfortunately in situations like this, where we have to be the voice of the voiceless.”

Milke has maintained her innocence and denied she ever confessed to the killing. The two men who led her child to his death in the desert were convicted of murder but refused to testify against Milke.

That left jurors with Saldate’s word alone that she told him about her involvement. Saldate has since retired, and The Associated Press has made repeated efforts to reach him for comment.

In its ruling overturning Milke’s conviction, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited numerous instances in which Saldate committed misconduct in previous cases, including lying under oath and violating suspects’ rights. The federal appeals court also asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Saldate had committed civil rights violations.

Prosecutors insist Milke is guilty, but their ability to try her again was limited by the fact that Saldate said he wouldn’t testify. He fears potential federal charges based on the 9th Circuit’s accusations of misconduct.

In December, Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz granted Saldate’s request to assert his Fifth Amendment right, allowing him to refuse to take the stand.

The state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in April and said Saldate would be forced to testify at the retrial. Both county and federal authorities said they don’t intend to seek charges against the detective based on any of the accusations leveled by the federal appeals court.

Milke, whose mother was a German who married a U.S. Air Force military policeman in Berlin in the 1960s, has drawn strong support from citizens of that nation and Switzerland, neither of which has the death penalty.

Milke’s mother died in Germany this year after a battle with cancer. A week before the August death, a judge had denied Milke’s request for permission to travel to Germany to visit her mother.

Marissa Alexander Case Comes To A Close

Originally posted on Blackbutterfly7:

(Hat tip to Mindyme, our reporter on the ground in Florida)


Marissa Alexander

In 2012, Marissa was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Last year around this time, Marissa Alexander was released on bond and was home for Thanksgiving. Her conviction was overturned on appeal because of an error in jury instructions.  Her new trial was scheduled to begin on December 1, 2014.

Since that time, Marissa’s lawyer has zealously fought for her. The Appellate Court ordered a new trial. She petitioned the court for, and was denied, another stand your ground immunity hearing.

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She Smiles and Nods

Originally posted on deafinprison:

I wrote this description from a videotape, I was asked to review in a court case involving a lady deaf inmate in a prison in the western part of the U.S.

She Smiles And Nods

She stood in the small room alone shackled in chains from the top of her ankles to a metal black bar on the floor. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit she waited for the two young detectives to come in. She met them with a smile and a nod. The lady detective dressed in causal clothes gently unshackled the lady inmate’s ankles and then put one handcuff on her right wrist to the chain on the bar on the floor. She now had one hand free to sign.

The other detective was a young man in a tie and white starched shirt. She pointed to his empty coffee cup on the table and…

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Sandra Steingraber’s Letter from Chemung County Jail -21 November 2014

by | November 22, 2014 · 3:18 PM THANK YOU!

Sandra Steingraber’s Letter from Chemung County Jail -21 November 2014

Sandra Steingraber, is a New York State anti-natural gas activist extraordinaire, teacher, eco-biologist, author, and parent. She is also a cancer survivor- a cancer linked to drinking water contamination. She has written several books including Living Downstream: an Ecologists Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, and Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis. The book is named after her son and is about all of our children, ourselves, and our friends and families that are being raised and living on the contemporary earth. In it she reminds us that there are thousands of human made toxic chemicals including at least 200 known brain poisons that flow freely in our economy.

Today Steingraber is in jail, again, standing up for all of us.  She is defending us against a corporate economic culture that cares about profit and expansion and not much else.  A few years back, when she was again in the Chemung County Jail, this time over an “Earth Day” remembrance, she said about he choice to go to jail ” A heroic narrative is a substantial one. Against all odds, it is possible that standing up can make a difference. Every person has the opportunity to have a heroic narrative in their lives, and so when our children ask- Are we going to die, it is the beginning of a heroic narrative to say, No- I am on the job, I will help make a difference.”

Sandra Steingraber wrote this letter for EcoWatch from the Chemung County Jail this morning to share with our readers and beyond.

Steingraber published a new letter from the Chemung County Jail in EcoWatch. “Why I am in Jail” is excerpted below.

Sandra Steingraber: Why I am in Jail

EcoWatch, 21 November, 2014

Breakfast in the Chemung County Jail is served at 5 a.m. This morning—Friday, November 21, 2014—it was Cheerios and milk plus two slaps of universally-despised “breakfast cake.” Along with trays of food—which are passed through the bars—arrive the morning rounds of meds for the inmates who take them. Now comes my favorite time of day in jail—the two quiet hours between breakfast and 7 a.m. before the television clicks on and we are ordered to make our beds and the loud day begins. Between the end of breakfast and 7 a.m., most women go back to sleep. Now I can hear only the sounds of their breathing—different rhythms all—and, on the far side of the steel door—the occasional voices of the C.O.s (correction officers, a.k.a. the guards) and the walkie-talkie orders they themselves are receiving.

More excerpts:

I have come to believe that a successful civil disobedience campaign likewise depends on the willingness of at least some of us to gladly accept jail time over other kinds of sentences, such as paying fines.

There are four reasons for this. First, it shows respect for the law. In my case, I was arrested for trespassing on the driveway of a Texas-based energy company that has the sole intention of turning the crumbling salt mines underneath the hillside into massive gas tanks for the highly-pressurized products of fracking: methane, propane and butane. (The part of the plan involving methane storage has already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). Even before the infrastructure for this gas storage is built, Crestwood Midstream has polluted the lake with salt, at levels that exceed its legal limits. Crestwood’s response is to pay a fine and keep polluting. By contrast, I refuse to pay a fine to excuse my crime and so accepted the lawful consequences of my actions.

Read the entire letter from jail here: Sandra Steingraber’s Letter from Chemung County Jail -21 November 2014

“The Rare Psychological Disorder That Only Affects Death Row Inmates”

Originally posted on

The Rare Psychological Disorder That Only Affects Death Row Inmates

Imagine being told you are going to die in a month. Then it’s a few hours. Then another month. You may be set free or you may be killed, and it all depends on events that are completely out of your control. How long could you stand it? …

Death Row Syndrome:

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YAHOO:NEWS: “Retrial, Really? The Relentless Obsession to Execute Jodi Arias”

Retrial, Really? The Relentless Obsession to Execute Jodi Arias

Good Morning America
Retrial, Really? The Relentless Obsession to Execute Jodi Arias

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Retrial, Really? The Relentless Obsession to Execute Jodi Arias (ABC News)

It would take a special type of person to look forward to a trial that will determine whether you will live or die. Yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that convicted murderer Jodi Arias may be that rare breed. A lethal combination of sociopath and narcissist with a dollop of daredevil that may have her actually excited about once again basking in the spotlight as she tries to convince a skeptical jury and public that she is not who she seems to be …

READ ARTICLE HERE, PLEASE:–abc-news-topstories.html

VIA TWITTER: Honor to meet w/former president of European Court for Human Rights today and talk about progress ending the #deathpenalty in the US.

Originally posted on

Equal Justice USA@EJUSA  · 18h18 hours ago

Honor to meet w/former president of European Court for Human Rights today and talk about progress ending the in the US.

Equal Justice USA
Listen live now to this important @OAS_official event:…

to my twitter account

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One-Third of the World’s Women in Prison Are Locked Up In The USA. All 201,200 Of Them.   :  Information Clearing House – ICH

Originally posted on

One-Third of the World’s Women in Prison Are Locked Up In The USA. All 201,200 Of Them.   :  Information Clearing House – ICH.

One-Third of the World’s Women in Prison Are Locked Up In The USA. All 201,200 Of Them.

 By Zak Cheney-Rice

October 14, 2014 “ICH” – “Mic” -Forbes recently published a map charting the largest female prison populations in the world:

Source: Niall McCarthy/Statista

As you can see, it’s not even close. Citing data from the International Center for Prison Studies, Niall McCarthy of Statista visualizes how the United States housed nearly one-third of the globe’s incarcerated women in 2013. It’s a huge problem the American public has only begun to recognize.

The context: Recently, discussions around the rise of mass incarceration have focused largely on men, most notably, black men. Illustrating this is how 1 in 10 black American males…

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