Case dismissed against Arizona death row inmate
It was an unspeakable and evil crime which happened back in 1989.
4-year-old Christopher Milke was told he was going to see Santa Claus.
Instead, Christopher was brought to the desert and shot to death.
Two men are on death row for the crime, and one woman was on death row too, but now Debra Milke, the boy's mother, is a free woman.
The case against her was dismissed for good.
Milke spent over two decades on death row, but the case against her fell apart because Armando Saldate, the former Phoenix Police detective who claimed she confessed to him, didn't record her confession, had no witnesses, destroyed his notes, and had a record of misconduct. Misconduct that included getting bogus confessions in other cases, a fact prosecutors did not tell Milke's defense attorneys.
So after a torturous legal saga that stretched 23 years, Debra Milke's conviction was tossed for good.
As Milke walked out of court Monday she was surrounded by reporters.
What are your reactions, how do you feel right now, tell us about it? "I fell good right now, I do, a little overwhelmed and distracted right now," said Debra Milke.
Milke was freed, her ankle monitoring bracelet removed, after a court hearing that lasted only about one minute and thirty-nine seconds. The judge asked both sides if they had anything to say; they didn't.
So the judge said the Supreme Court had ruled, and it was time to dismiss the case, which the judge did with prejudice that means it cannot be reopened.
Outside, Milke's attorney placed the blame squarely on prosecutors and Det. Saldate.
"Here is a woman that suffered for years that maliciously was prosecuted, she was innocent, it was all based on a police officer that totally lied. To see her free today, free and exonerated is an unbelievable thing," said Michael Kimerer, Milke's attorney.
Questions still swirl around the controversial case. The nagging question is whether she had anything to do with her little son Christopher's death.
She says no, her attorneys say emphatically no.
There are many questions that remain for Milke. What was it like to spend over two decades on death row? What she plans to do next? Milke is saying very little.
"I am not saying any more; I have a press conference set for tomorrow," said Milke.
The press conference begins at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, she will talk about the case, her new freedom, and what lies ahead; including her civil lawsuit. She wants money; damages for what she says was a conviction obtained as a result of wrongdoing by prosecutors and police.
As for the two men on death row for killing little Christopher Milke; they had a chance to testify against Milke, but they never did.