PHOENIX — Prosecutors formally told a court Monday that they plan to retry
an Arizona death row inmate whose conviction was overturned by a federal appeals
court four months ago.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office hasn’t filed a notice on whether they
intend to seek the death penalty in the case of Debra Milke.
Milke, 49, was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to death for sending her
4-year-old son off to visit a mall Santa Claus with two men who shot the boy
execution-style in the desert in 1989.
She is one of three women on death row in the state.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Milke’s conviction
on March 14, concluding that prosecutors hadn’t turned over evidence of the
history of misconduct by a detective who testified at her 1990 trial that she
had confessed to him in a closed interrogation room.
Milke has always maintained her innocence, saying she had nothing to do with
her son Christopher’s death.
Since Milke’s conviction was overturned, prosecutors have said they were
planning to retry her.
Still, they officially declared they were seeking a retrial after a ruling
Monday by U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield. The judge ordered Milke to be
released from custody unless prosecutors say within 30 days that they were going
to retry her.
“Today’s filing is consistent with what the county attorney has said for some
time, namely that our office is preparing to retry this case,” said Jerry Cobb,
a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, which is handling the
Michael Kimmerer, an attorney for Milke, told The Arizona Republic that he will
try to secure bond for Milke after she’s transferred from state prison to the
Prosecutors claimed Milke had her son killed to collect on a $5,000 insurance
The two men convicted in the case _ Roger Scott and former Milke roommate James
Styers _ also are on Arizona’s death row.
Scott confessed during a police interrogation and led detectives to the boy’s
body. Neither Scott nor Styers testified against Milke.