SAN FRANCISCO – A German-born woman was freed from prison Friday after more than two decades behind bars in Arizona for the murder of her 4-year-old son, after a judge ordered a retrial.
Debra Milke, 49, was freed on $250,000 bail pending the retrial, scheduled after a court in Arizona threw out her death sentence earlier in the year.
Milke, the daughter of a German mother and an American father, was convicted in 1990 of arranging the killing of her son, Christopher, with two accomplices. The two men told the youngster they were taking him to a mall to see Santa Claus in 1989 but instead took him into the desert north of Phoenix and shot him in the head, the trial heard.
But in March an appeals court judge threw out her conviction and death sentence because prosecutors had not produced evidence about a detective who claimed that Milke had confessed to him. Prosecutors pledged to press charges for a new trial, and a judge ruled Thursday that Milke could be released on bail pending preparation of the retrial.