An Arizona woman on death row for almost 24 years could be released Friday, as she awaits a retrial for the shooting death of her son in which she was convicted, a Maricopa County judge ruled Thursday.
Debra Milke and two accomplices, James Styers, the suspected shooter, and Roger Scott, were sent to Arizona death row for the December 1989 murder of Milke’s 4-year-old son, Christopher. They told the boy that they were taking him to see Santa Claus at the mall and instead took him to the desert and shot him in the head, according to the Arizona Republic.
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The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Milke's conviction and death sentence in March because the prosecution had failed to turn over evidence about the Phoenix police detective who claimed that Milke confessed.
Milke denied confessing, while the detective, Armando Saldate, had not recorded the confession and there were no witnesses to confirm it took place.
Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz set bail at $250,000 and had a hearing set for Sept. 23 to consider the defense attorneys' request to prohibit Milke’s original confession, KJZZ-FM reported.
Mroz ordered that Milke post a secured bond, which requires the entire amount of the bail, wear a monitoring device and adhere to a curfew.
During a court hearing Aug. 30, Milke’s attorneys, Mike Kimerer and Lori Voepel, told Mroz that Milke’s supporters would be able to put up bond money and will provide a house for her to stay as the trial is underway.
"I’m so overwhelmed by this, I don’t know how to react to it," Kimerer said Milke told him, the Arizona Republic reported.
Milke's ex-husband and Christopher's father, Arizona Milke, told KSAZ-TV
that he still believes Debra Milke was involved in the murder and is unhappy about her being released.
"No, I'm not going to be okay with that," Arizona Milke said.
He said he plans on suing his ex-wife and the state for what he believes is a conspiracy to conceal the boy's real killer.
"She'll win this case criminally, but she'll lose it civilly, and so will the state," he said.
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