PHOENIX — The United States Attorney’s Office will not pursue an investigation against a detective whose testimony put a woman in jail for nearly two decades, according to a letter sent to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it declined to investigate because charges could not be pursued against former Phoenix Police Detective Armando Saldate, Jr. due to federal statutes of limitations.
It is unknown if other agencies will pursue charges against Saldate.
Saldate testified at Debra Milke’s trial that she confessed to having her son killed in a closed interrogation room, but the jury had only his word to go on. The interview wasn’t recorded, and Saldate had destroyed his notes. Milke denied that she had confessed, but the detective’s testimony was crucial to her conviction.
Without the confession, “there’s really no case,” Milke’s attorney, Michael Kimerer, said outside court Thursday.
Doubts about Saldate’s honesty arose during Milke’s appeals. The 9th Circuit concluded in March that prosecutors’ failure to turn over evidence related to Saldate’s credibility deprived Milke’s attorneys of the chance to question his truthfulness before jurors.
“No civilized system of justice should have to depend on such flimsy evidence, quite possibly tainted by dishonesty or overzealousness, to decide whether to take someone’s life or liberty,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote.
The court noted several instances in which judges threw out confessions or indictments because Saldate lied under oath and others in which cases were tossed out or confessions excluded because the detective violated the suspect’s constitutional rights. Jurors at Milke’s trial were not made aware of Saldate’s dubious past.
The court ordered its clerk to send along copies of the opinion to federal authorities for “possible investigation into whether Detective Saldate’s conduct … amounts to a pattern of violating the federally protected rights of Arizona residents.”
His attorney indicated Thursday that was at least partly why he advised his client to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Saldate has not returned telephone calls from The Associated Press.
Milke was convicted in 1990 for her role in the death of her 4-year-old son, Christopher. Authorities say she had him killed, in part, to keep him from her ex-husband. They say she dressed the boy in his favorite outfit in December 1989, telling him he was going to see a mall Santa Claus before handing him over to two men who took the child into the desert and shot him three times in the back of the head. Both men are currently on death row.
KTAR’s Sandra Haros and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development