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 retrial.
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 county jail.
Prosecutors claimed Milke had her son killed to collect on a $5,000 insurance policy.
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. (AP)