Ariz. woman accused in son's death seeks release - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Ariz. woman accused in son's death seeks release

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Debra Jean Milke Debra Jean Milke

She spent 23 years on death row, but a few weeks ago, a federal appeals court threw out Debra Milke's conviction and death sentence.  

Milke will remain behind bars and on Thursday, a judge gave attorneys a stern warning that they are not to try the case in the media and that a gag order may be considered in the future.

The judge was not happy that news of a motion was in the media before it was actually filed.  She said if it happens again, the court will entertain a gag order meaning attorneys could not discuss the case.

Milke was in court Thursday as was her ex-husband, Arizona Milke, the father of the boy she was convicted of killing.

Wearing jail stripes, Milke sat in court as her attorneys discussed motions and set dates, leading up to her September retrial.  

"Circus has already started on this," said Arizona Milke.

In March, after spending 20 plus years on death row, the court of appeals granted Debra a retrial, saying prosecutors didn't turn over evidence of misconduct by a detective who testified that she confessed to taking part in the shooting death of her 4-year-old son Christopher in 1989.

"The important person's still absent and that's Christopher," said Arizona.

The 4-year-old thought he was visiting Santa Claus, but was instead shot and killed by two men who prosecutors
say Milke had kill him.  The motive, they say, a $5,000 insurance policy.

Thursday's hearing was supposed to be about whether the 49-year old should be released from jail while she awaits the retrial.

But another motion was filed to disqualify the county attorney's office from prosecuting the case, along with a motion to throw out the detectives claim that Milke confessed to the crime.

The judge will take up those issues later this month.

"Detective Saldates' credibility is at issue and any suppression hearing involving the confession would necessarily involve him testifying in court," said Judge Rosa Mroz.

Milke has maintained her innocence.

A trial date is set for September 30. Prosecutors are again seeking the death penalty.

"She's guilty as she ever was.. she'll get retried, she'll be found guilty and she'll get the same sentence," said Arizona.

The judge set a lot of deadlines Thursday, saying time was an issue.

The Court of Appeals said the case must be retried in 90 days or Milke could be released.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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