Arizona Court Of Appeals Decides Not To Retry Milke
Thursday the Arizona Court of Appeals ordered a lower court dismiss charges against a former death row inmate. Debra Milke was convicted of arranging the murder of her son and spent more than 22 years on death row before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside her conviction.
After that, Arizona prosecutors wanted to retry her. The Arizona Court of Appeals determined the state knew about alleged misconduct by a former Phoenix police detective and did not disclose it to Milke or her attorneys. The Arizona Court of Appeals determined the state couldn’t retry her because it would be double jeopardy. One of Milke’s Attorney’s Lori Voepel said the Arizona law on double jeopardy is broader than the federal law.
“Here in Arizona under the Arizona constitution egregious forms of prosecutorial misconduct that can then form the basis for a dismissal under Arizona’s double jeopardy clause,” Voepel said.
The court determined the state knew about alleged misconduct by a former Phoenix police detective and didn’t disclose it to Milke or her attorneys. Retired police detective Armando Saldate Jr. was being investigated for his interrogation methods and honesty. The court ruled this affected Saldate’s credibility which was important because the prosecution in Milke’s case relied on his testimony. He testified that Milke confessed to the murder, but she denied making the confession. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says courts treat the police and prosecutors as one entity – the state.
“For purposes of how courts rule on these issues they’re conflating the police department and the prosecution agency." Mongtomgery said. "I think it does bear and it would be fair to distinguish who did what in terms of qualifying or characterizing what the prosecutor actually did.”
The court decision did not rule on Milke’s guilt or innocence. The Maricopa County Attorney’s office is appealing the case to the Arizona Supreme Court to make a determination on whether Milke can be retried.