Woman on death row could be freed
Sep 5, 2013 / 7:02 pm
More than two decades after she was sent to death row, an Arizona woman convicted of having her 4-year-old son killed for an insurance payout could soon be freed while she awaits a retrial of the case that made her one of the state's most reviled inmates.
Judge Rosa Mroz set Debra Milke's bond at $250,000 Thursday, saying there's no direct evidence linking her with her son's death other than a purported confession to a detective. And, the judge said, the validity of that confession is in doubt.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Milke would probably be released Friday. Defence attorney Michael Kimerer did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
If she is freed, Milke's lawyers have said she plans to stay at a home that supporters bought for her in the Phoenix area. She has been imprisoned since 1990.
Prosecutors say Milke had her son, Christopher, killed to collect on a $5,000 insurance policy. She allegedly dressed the boy in his favourite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. She then handed the boy over to two men who were later convicted of taking the child to the desert and shooting him.
The possibility of freedom comes six months after a federal appeals court overturned Milke's conviction, ruling that the prosecution should have disclosed information about the truthfulness of the now-retired detective who testified that Milke confessed.
Milke was a 25-year-old insurance company clerk when her son was killed. Now 49, she has maintained her innocence, saying she had nothing to do with the slaying.
The two men convicted in the case both remain on death row. Neither Roger Scott nor former Milke roommate James Styers testified at Milke's trial. Scott confessed during a police interrogation and led detectives to the boy's body.
Maricopa County prosecutors are still seeking the death penalty against Milke, and her alleged confession is at the heart of the case against her.
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