Arizona Attorney General to appeal Milke case to US Supreme CourtPosted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck
PHOENIX -- One day after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and death sentence of convicted killer Debra Milke, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said he will fight the decision.
“We’re going to appeal to the United States Supreme Court,” said Horne in a Skype interview with 3TV.
Horne is currently in Washington D.C. to argue another case before the Supreme Court.
“This was an extremely brutal situation where a woman wanted her own child to be murdered,” Horne said.
Debra Milke was sentenced to death for the murder of her 4-year-old son Christopher in 1989.
Christopher was told he would be going to see Santa Claus, and instead was taken to the desert by two men and shot, allegedly on Milke’s orders.
According to court documents, the state failed to disclose that an investigator in the case, Armando Saldante, had a history of lying on the witness stand and other misconduct.
The bulk of the case against Milke was based on an alleged confession that she gave to Saldante, who did not tape-record the confession or get a signed written copy. Saldante also did not get a recording of Milke’s alleged waiver of her Miranda rights.
“The state failed to turn over and the courts failed to require the state to turn over all this exculpatory and all this impeachment evidence against Saldante,” said Milke’s appeals attorney Lori Voepel, who maintains that her client is innocent and never confessed.
“Juries expect confessions to be recorded, or signed, or written,” Voepel said.
Juries might expect confessions to be recorded or written, but that is not currently a requirement in the state of Arizona.
“In many states if a confession is not tape recorded, it is inadmissible. Period. That’s not true in Arizona,” said criminal defense attorney Jeff Mehrens.
According to attorney Larry Hammond, who helped form the Arizona Justice Project, if the United States Supreme Court decides to grant certiorari to hear Debra Milke’s case, there is the potential that the justices could also look into the issue of whether states are required to record confessions and Miranda waivers.
“Given the fact that the only thing they had in this [Debra Milke’s] case is this detective’s word, and he didn’t bother to videotape it, didn’t write it down, and that’s a problem,” said Mehrens.