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Cop's credibility key to murder suspect's retrial


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Cop's credibility key to murder suspect's retrial By BRIAN SKOLOFF and ADAM GELLER, Associated Press | September 21, 2013 | Updated: September 21, 2013 3:02pm

PHOENIX (AP) — On the final morning of 4-year-old Christopher Milke's life, his mother sent him off to visit Santa Claus at a Phoenix shopping mall in a triceratops sweatshirt and cowboy boots. Within hours, the little boy with the blond bangs and dark eyes was dead, shot three times in the head, his body curled in a dry desert wash on the fringe of the city.


Investigators quickly zeroed in on the mother, Debra Jean Milke, later condemned by her own family for treating Christopher with contempt. She was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.


But nearly 24 years after the crime, the case returns to a courtroom Monday — with the verdict and the detective who cemented it effectively on trial.


A day after the killing, then-Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate Jr. sat down alone with Milke to question her. A half-hour later, the young mother was arrested for plotting Christopher's murder based on a detailed confession, one whose veracity she and her defenders have refuted ever since.


But Saldate, a 21-year veteran of the force, proved a most convincing witness. Listening to him, jurors looked past the fact that he had ignored a directive to record the interview, failed to secure a witness to observe it and destroyed his notes. And prosecutors did not share with them, or Milke's own lawyer, a personnel record that included previous allegations of misconduct.


It came down to his hard-boiled version of the truth over hers, based on words uttered in an interrogation room turned "into a black box, leaving no objectively verifiable proof as to what happened inside," an appellate court opined in a scathing March decision setting aside Milke's conviction. Scissors-32x32.png

"No civilized system of justice should have to depend on such flimsy evidence," the court said. Scissors-32x32.png


then now


Edited by Draggingtree
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