Death Penalty

Woman released on bond after 23 years on death row for son's murder

An Arizona woman imprisoned for her son’s murder has been freed on bond after 23 years on death row.

Debra Milke, 49, was released Friday after a judge ruled there was no direct evidence tying her to the 1989 murder of her 4-year-old son, Christopher, the Associated Press reports.

Milke’s 1990 conviction was overturned in March by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that prosecutors should have disclosed information to the defense that cast doubt on the credibility of a now-retired police detective who said that Milke had confessed to the killing during an unrecorded interrogation. The 9th Circuit cited the detective, Armando Saldate Jr., as the cause of at least eight other confessions and indictments being thrown out in other trials.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz released Milke on a $250,000 bond while she prepares for a new trial, which is tentatively set to begin later this month.

Milke, a former insurance company clerk, was convicted of arranging to have her son killed by two men for a $5,000 insurance payout. Both men are still on death row. But Milke has always maintained her innocence.

Prosecutors declined to comment but have not appealed the bond order. They plan on seeking the death penalty again at the retrial, and the AP says that the alleged confession is still “at the heart of the case against her.”

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