State of Conviction: Arizona
Wrongful Conviction: Murder
Exonerated Date: 2015
Years Served: 23
Debra Milke spent 23 years on death row for arranging two men to kill her 4-year-old son so she could collect an insurance payout. The two men who were convicted of murder and remain on death row. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned Debra’s conviction because the prosecutor withheld evidence that undermined key testimony in the case. Arizona’s prosecutors have been accused of misconduct in more than half of all cases the state has imposed death sentences. In this case, Detective Armando Saldate testified that Debra confessed to him. However, there was no recording, witnesses to the confession, and Debra steadfastly denied confessing. The detective’s personnel record, which prosecutors withheld from the defense, revealed that the detective had committed serious misconduct in prior cases, including lying under oath.
Debra is the 151st person exonerated from death row since 1973 and the first in 2015. She is the ninth person exonerated from Arizona’s death row and the second female death row exoneree in the U.S.
Source: Death Penalty Information Center
Read more about Debra’s story here.