There is a small amount of good news. I have written several times about the tragic story of Debra Milke, the woman who was convicted of murdering her 4-year-old son over 20 years ago. She has been on death row since that time. The evidence against her was terrible, to put it lightly. Mostly, it all depended upon the word of a police officer and serial liar who claimed that Milke had confessed to him. The case came down to his word against hers. So as is usual, the jury believed the police officer. Earlier this year, an Appellate court overturned the earlier conviction (based largely on the officer’s history of lying) and called for a new trial or for Milke to be release. Of course, prosecutors pretty much never admit error and so they are retrying the case. But in the meantime, Milke has been released on bail (against the hysterical arguments of the prosecution).
The injustice in this case makes it extremely compelling. But it is hardly unusual. What I especially like about the case is what it shows about the death penalty generally. Proponents of the death penalty always think that it is applied in cases where there is overwhelming evidence. After all, there is that whole requirement that the jury be certain to within a “shadow of a doubt.” But usually, people are put on death row and later executed based on the flimsiest of evidence.
In Debra Milke’s case it really is just just one guy saying that he told her she did it. Does he have a recording? No. Does he have notes? No. Does he have a history of lying under oath and abusing women during interrogations? Yes! That’s basically what the state thought they should kill Milke over. It is also, what they had no problem putting her in jail for 22 years for. But I think there is something more going on in this case. It was a well publicized case. A 4-year-old boy had been murdered. The jury was angry. They wanted revenge and Milke was offered up.
At this point, I think that Milke will be exonerated. In fact, I’m not sure why they are even having another trial. It seems to me that the prosecution is going to look foolish. They didn’t have much evidence 22 years ago. Now they have much less. That is assuming that the lying cop won’t be allowed to testify—it’s still unclear. And now Milke has a good legal team with financial resources. She’s not OJ, but she will at least get a fair trial. Then again, I won’t be shocked if she is convicted. As we’ve seen, the jury system is not exactly dependable.
But it is at least good news the Debra Milke is out of jail. It is a little bit of justice, a long time in coming. And hopefully it is a good omen for the future. I will continue to follow the story here.
H/T: Debra Milke News