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Debra Milke Ordered To Stand Trial Again

A woman convicted 24 years ago of conspiring to kill her 4-year-old son will have to stand trial again. Debra Milke’s conviction and death sentence were overturned last year by a federal appeals court.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cited examples of now retired Phoenix Police detective Armando Saldate lying under oath. The court ruled that prosecutors should have let Milke’s defense attorneys know about the detective’s misconduct.

Saldate testified that Debra Milke had confessed to him about involvement in her son’s murder, but there were no witnesses to the confession or recording of it.  Milke later denied making the confession.

Her attorneys said the failure of prosecutors to divulge information about Saldate’s honesty amounted to prosecutorial misconduct, and Milke should not be tried again. On Wednesday, a superior court judge denied that claim and ordered a new trial.

The court upheld an earlier decision allowing Saldate to invoke his 5th Amendment rights. Saldate is now refusing to testify at Milke's retrial for fear of facing federal civil rights charges for lying under oath.

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.