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German-born woman freed from death row

The Local · 16 Mar 2013, 11:37

Published: 16 Mar 2013 11:37 GMT+01:00

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Debra Milke, the daughter of a German mother and American father, was convicted by a court in Arizona in 1990 for plotting to have her four-year-old son killed.

The child had been taken on an outing by a man then living with Milke on the understanding, she claimed, that he was going to see Santa Claus in a shopping centre. However the man and an accomplice drove the child to a remote ravine, where he was shot dead. Both men were sentenced to death.

Milke had always maintained her innocence. The Arizona court that convicted her in 1990 had relied solely on the testimony of a detective, who claimed she had confessed to the crime. No written or recorded evidence of the supposed confession has ever been produced and it has since emerged that the individual in question had a track record of lying under oath, as well as a history of other misconduct.

According to judge Alex Kozinski of the San Francisco Court of Appeals, Milke did not receive a fair trial and there was no evidence to suggest she had any involvement in the death of her son.

Kozinksi criticized prosecutors for remaining “unconstitutionally silent” about the detective’s history of deceit. Since the conviction has been overturned, Milke will be released from prison unless the state pushes for a retrial.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said he will personally argue on the state’s behalf if the case goes to the US Supreme Court. In a written statement, he said that Milke had been found guilty of a "horrible crime" and that the Court of Appeals’ decision “needs to be reversed.”

Story continues below…

Neither Milke’s defense team nor the jury in Arizona had been aware that previous judges had discarded four confessions made by the detective because of his history of lying under oath.

DPA/The Local/kkf

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:18 March 16, 2013 by Englishted
Every now and again a story comes up to reinforce my belief the state murder is wrong.
12:49 March 16, 2013 by grazhdanin
twenty years is a long time that she won't ever get back
15:29 March 16, 2013 by ovalle3.14
A punishment that focuses on revenge and fixes nothing.
15:35 March 16, 2013 by DOZ
United States and Canada is pure evil. Hide your Children from Canadians with dogs. You may never see them again.
23:09 March 16, 2013 by RosieRosebud
Well, you can argue that capital punishment simply focuses on revenge but does nothing to fix anything. I would argue that the are many humans that are not fixable. Ver the course of my life I have worked professionally with the most vile and dangerous beings in our state. I will not compliment them by referring to them as human.

Like some of you, I was once a strong proponent of trying to help, to fix, those who are so badly broken. Some of these broken ones have never been what we would call normal. They have literally been demonstrating unusual and aggressive behaviors since birth. I refer you to a researcher from New Zealand, Terry Moffit.

I do find it absurd that the very same people who would argue against the death penalty for heinous crimes could very well be people who would see no problem with abortion, which is also the death penalty. One form of the death penalty simply destroys the life at a different stage of growth and development. You cannot argue that it is anything else.

I would therefore argue that if terminating a life is acceptable when no harm has been done by those being terminated, humanity should certainly be allowed to terminate the life of those who do grievous harm.

After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, no?
23:23 March 16, 2013 by Englishted

So you would have no abortion under any circumstance ?,

When does life start?

Should somebody who miscarries be charged with death by misadventure?
02:44 March 17, 2013 by EffectivelyME
The abortion argument is good, I think. But still leaves the question open for debate, concerning when life begins, and when abortion is cruel to the fetus.

And, a final comment. I wonder of this women is past her child-bearing years? What if there was no evidence, but she really wanted to kill her child? Charges like that do not come light...
02:55 March 17, 2013 by johnny108
She was freed because the prosecutor screwed up. In her trial- it was pretty obvious that she hired two men to kill her own child. Only technicalities have freed her. She is still a child-murderer.

I am curious: Is the death penalty so wrong? Since I've come to Germany, I've seen bank robbers get 20 years, but murderers get only 5. This is justice? What would the victims' family think of this?

In America- we may kill to many people- but we give them all due process (it doesn't always work- like with this woman, or O.J. Simpson)...The only real objection most Americans have for execution, is it's cost.
06:54 March 17, 2013 by dportjoe
I do not support the death penalty. We have executed far too many folks whose guilt has been in doubt. We have also executed adults with the minds of small children. Must ask Johnny 108 how many days you were in the court room hearing first hand testimony, or when you read the transcripts of the case.

Failing that no one who is basing off o news reports has enough information to to form any sort of legal conclusion.

Oh and you left out the COP that screwed up. Feeling that carrying the badge gives you the right to lie under oath makes you every bit as bad as the folks you are were to protect the rest of the people from
08:47 March 17, 2013 by Bigfoot76
"In America- we may kill to many people- but we give them all due process" That is not so true. One example is the case involving Humberto Leal. The state of Texas completely ignored the Vienna Treaty which "requires foreign nationals who are arrested in foreign countries the right to access their consulates"

President Obama, Mexico and the State Department all requested Texas for a reprieve to review the case but the Justice system was so excited to put another one down that they completely ignored international law and the request of its own federal government.

Further more, consider this...Gary Ridgway was convicted of 48 murders and given life in prison. Ted Kaczynski killed 3 and injured 23 others and also got life in prison. OJ Simpson was accused of killing 2 but LA county prosecutors announced ahead of time they would not seek the death penalty.

Debra Milke, Humberto Leal and many other kill or allegedly kill one and immediately are sentenced to death. Logic says that if you are going to kill in the US, it is best you kill many people because then you get a free roof, free food, cable TV and countless other amenities for the rest of your life.

Now I wonder who feels more like they received their due process, The GreenRiver Killer or Humberto Leal. Here is a hint, the one that feels they did get it killed a whole lot more and is still alive.
09:01 March 17, 2013 by mitanni
The problem here was the flimsy evidence, not the death penalty.
23:31 March 17, 2013 by zeddriver
Trying to serve justice is never an easy issue. And even as I'm someone that thinks violent heinous criminals should be locked away for life or even suffer the death penalty. I also think that I'd rather a criminal go free. Than an innocent person be locked away or killed. But what really irks me. Is when cops lie to try and insure a conviction. Thus giving the possibility of an out for a true criminal through an appeal based on what we refer to as a "technicality"
17:42 March 18, 2013 by Beachrider
Two things are going on here. First, this German-born, raised-in-the-USA woman was implicated in the murder of her 4 year old son. Second, much of the primary evidence came from closed-door meetings with a single detective.

There is no doubt that the 4 year old died or the physical cause of his death. They have the body. They even have good evidence as to who did the actual shooting (not her). The issue revolved around the motive for murdering the 4 year old. Evidence was shown that this recently divorced woman was distressed by the existence of the 4 year old (the detective was not involved in that evidence). The bigger evidence was the astounding testimony of a confession in a closed door session with the detective.

The detective clearly used rough techniques to extract evidence. Unless he lied, they weren't illegal. The woman was convicted under Arizona law, not USA law. Arizona can put people to death, but the cases must be reviewed by USA courts. This California-based USA court decided that Arizona's judge misapplied evidence rules and set the person free. The person can be recharged, if Arizona decides to do that.

Argue about the death penalty as you like. 17 of the 50 states don't allow it for anything, so the USA doesn't speak with one voice on this. Before re-presenting the case to another Arizona jury, the prosecutor need to resolve the detective believability issue.

(I think that she did it, but cannot be put to death if the detective cannot be believed).
18:41 March 18, 2013 by RosieRosebud

I believe you are trying to provoke. Please do not.

I say that murder is murder. Ending a life is ending a life. The continuum of life extends from conception to death. We all know that fact. Some would argue otherwise so as to prevent the obvious acknowledgement of life.

As a world we face this question on a daily basis........who lives and who dies? The next question is this.......at what points in life do we allow murder, and for what reason?

We now face the proposal that the life of the elderly are worth very little.

Those of us reading this have escaped murder at the beginning of the continuum, as well as murder by our fellow humans and the state. We still face the prospect of murder by the state and our fellow humans.

The decision to terminate life in another is one I will not make.

Just as you value your life, so does your neighbor and child, and parent.

As we move toward the guiltless termination of some life it does become easier to include other groups of people in this category of having no value.

The ultimate question is this: WHO DECIDES?

Englishted, I will not be provoked into argument about this. However, I will state what is obvious to me.

http://www.whitepages.com/business/directions?uid=AkYik-Vh. We have all witnessed this historically.
18:49 March 18, 2013 by Englishted

O.K the last point was over the top however the other questions are valid.

Whoever decides it can not be based on middle eastern dribble from between 1500 and 2000 years or longer ago.
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