Former Phoenix police detective Armando Saldate will not testify again during the retrial of Debra Milke, scheduled for February 2015, according to the Huffington Post.
Saldate was the lynchpin in the original trial against Milke, testifying that Milke had confessed to killing her four-year-old son with two other men in the desert in 1989.
This confession has held extreme importance in this case because it is the only connection between Milke and the murder. The confession violated Milke’s rights as she did not waive her rights to have an attorney present at the time of the interrogation, and the proposed confession was never recorded, courts determined.
The entire case has been a game of his word against hers and, in the process, Milke has spent over two decades of her life in prison while Saldate, who has been accused by the court of misconduct in various occurrences, was granted his right to the fifth amendment which gives him protection against self incrimination.
“The court finds that Saldate has demonstrated a reasonable apprehension of danger that, if compelled to answer, he would face criminal charges,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz wrote. Mroz also states she did “not fully agree” with every allegation the appeals court made against Saldate.
Milke has maintained her innocence and denied she ever told Saldate she was involved in the murder of her son.
This case is now facing many new challenges as the Saldate interrogation was the key piece of evidence in helping to prove Milke’s innocence. She was released over a year ago due to unreliable evidence, and her defense is now arguing that the case be dismissed because that purported confession is the only evidence connecting Milke to the murder.
The two men who were convicted in her son’s murder remain on death row and did not testify against her in the past.
The defense argued in a motion that Milke’s trial should be dismissed with prejudice, so that prosecutors can’t try her again, KTAR reports from the Associated Press.
Milke is still released on bond and awaits trial in February 2015.