The top prosecutor in metro Phoenix has expressed relief that a judge dismissed a malicious prosecution claim made by a woman who spent 22 years on death row before her conviction was thrown out in the killing of her 4-year-old son.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the ruling will help dispel the myth that Debra Milke was wrongly prosecuted in the 1989 shooting death of her 4-year-old son Christopher.
Milke alleged in her lawsuit that she was wrongfully convicted based on a confession fabricated by a detective.
Nearly three years ago, a federal appeals court threw out Milke's conviction, ruling prosecutors failed to disclose a history of misconduct by the case investigator, including four other criminal cases in which courts concluded he lied.
As a result, the purported confession obtained by the detective was called into question. Milke insists she never confessed and maintains that she was innocent. The courts have since barred prosecutors from retrying Milke.
Late last week, a judge dismissed part of Milke's lawsuit that alleged she was maliciously prosecuted after the child was found dead in the desert. The judge pointed out the appeals court that cast doubt about the confession never concluded that she was innocent.
The judge dismissed several other legal claims by Milke, including an allegation that police fabricated evidence but has given her lawyers a chance to revive those claims.
Milke attorney Nick Brustin declined to comment on Montgomery's remarks.