The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling in Milke v. Ryan is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Convictions of woman on Ariz. death row overturned," is the Arizona Republic report written by Michael Kiefer.
Debra Milke was a celebrated villain of 1989, a woman accused and convicted of dressing up her 4-year-old son to see Santa Claus and, instead, sending him off to be shot execution-style in a desert wash.
She is one of three women on Arizona’s death row.
But on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out her death sentence and murder conviction because the trial court refused to let her introduce evidence that might have discredited her supposed confession.
The Phoenix police detective who claimed Milke confessed to him had a history of lying to grand juries and extracting confessions even from unconscious suspects on hospital gurneys, according to the court opinion. There were no witnesses to the confession, and it was not recorded. Milke denied she ever confessed.
The 9th Circuit asked the U.S. District Court to send the case to the Arizona court system for a new trial and ordered that the detective’s personnel files be made available for Milke’s defense.
Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jeffrey Zick said his office will likely ask a larger panel of 9th Circuit judges to rehear the appeal before taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The AP report is, "Woman on death row 22 yrs. sees convictions overturned," via the Arizona Daily Star.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the prosecution failed to disclose information about a history of misconduct by a detective who testified that Milke confessed to plotting her son's murder.
"Some of the misconduct wasn't disclosed until the case came to federal court and, even today, some evidence relevant to (the detective's) credibility hasn't been produced," the ruling said. "In the balance hangs the life of Milke, who has been on Arizona's death row for 22 years."
The ruling reversed a U.S. district judge's ruling and ordered the lower court to require Arizona authorities to turn over all relevant personnel records on the detective.
Once the material is produced and defense lawyers have time to review it, prosecutors will have 30 days to retry her. If they don't, she will be released from prison.