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Arizona judge tosses case against ex-death row inmate Debra Milke

PHOENIX — A judge dismissed the case Monday against an Arizona woman who spent two decades on death row after being convicted of killing her little boy.

Last week the Arizona Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ bid for a retrial against Debra Jean Milke, 51. That all but sealed dismissal.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said at the time the decision was “a dark day for Arizona’s criminal justice system.”

A federal appeals court overturned Milke’s 1990 murder conviction in 2013, ruling
that prosecutors failed to disclose a detective’s history of misconduct.

Milke has been free on bond since then awaiting retrial in the killing of her 4-year-old boy in 1989.

She hugged supporters and sobbed as she left the courtroom, where a
judge formally dismissed the case, saying it cannot be tried again, less than a
week after prosecutors lost their final appeal.

Judge Rosa Mroz also allowed removal of Milke’s electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet.

“It feels good,” Milke said, pulling up one pant leg to show her ankle.

Milke was imprisoned for murder. Authorities said she dressed her son, Christopher, in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989.

He was instead taken by two men into the desert outside Phoenix and shot in the back of the head.

Milke has sued the city of Phoenix and Maricopa County, among others, for violation of her civil rights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.