Debra Milke

State: Arizona

Convicted: 1990

Exonerated: 2015

Race: Caucasian

DNA used in exoneration? No

Reasons for wrongful conviction:

False confession

Perjury or false accusation

Police misconduct

Prosecutorial misconduct

Debra's Wrongful Conviction

Debra Milke was wrongfully convicted in 1990 in a tragic and horrible miscarriage of justice. She was wrongfully accused of a crime against her own child, Christopher, who was brutally murdered. She spent 22 years on Arizona's death row. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted her Habeas Corpus Petition in 2013, holding that prosecutors failed to disclose a history of misconduct by homicide detective Armando Saldate Jr.

While she did gain her hard-fought-for freedom, she was still left with a life without her son, making the victory bittersweet.

"I always believed this day would come I just didn't think it would take 25 years, 3 months and 14 days to rectify such a blatant miscarriage of justice," Milke said.

Debra's Work Today

Debra remains in her hometown of Phoenix, where she works part-time at a law firm, and tries to rebuild her shattered life. She is also active with Witness to Innocence, speaking about her story in the hopes of abolishing the death penalty and participating in both Accuracy & Justice and Justice After Exoneration.


A Stolen Life: The Debra Milke Story

  • Written by Jana Bommersbach

  • Bommersbach, an award winning journalist, tells the story of Debra Milke's tragic wrongful conviction.

In The Media:

3.17.15 Do we owe Debra Milke anything?

3.23.15 Murder charges formally dismissed against Milke

3.24.15 Debra Milke, who spent 22 years on Arizona death row, has murder case tossed

3.24.15 Debra Milke speaks out after 23 years on death row

3.26.15 Debra Milke: Why freedom feels so elusive to death row exonerees

8.3.15 Debra Milke’s new world after a half-life on death row

6.13.16 Judge refuses to drop Milke lawsuit against police, prosecutors

10.21.16 Meeting the survivors of death row

5.4.18 Anti-death penalty group calls on Arizona to end capital punishment

4.17.19 Former Death Row Inmate Speaks About Her Life After Being Exonerated

8.27.19 Wrongfully Convicted

9.3.19 Bommersbach wasn’t going to touch this story

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