Mom Serves 22 Years on Death Row for Killing Her 4-Year-Old Son -- But She's Innocent

Debra MilkeFor 22 years, a mom has been sitting on death row, haunted by a murder conviction. They said she was in on a plot to murder her 4-year-old son. Well, this week, Debra Milke's murder conviction was overturned.

She's free to leave the Arizona prison where she expected to end her life. Talk about a bittersweet victory.

Debra Milke will not be executed by the State of Arizona, and she now gets to walk free.

But let's be clear: that's a good thing ... not a great thing.

Really, what is there for this woman to celebrate?

Her little boy is still dead. That can't be undone.

He was murdered in 1990 by her roommate, James Styers, and a friend. The two men were supposed to be taking little Christopher Milke to see Santa Claus at the mall. Instead they drove him to a secluded ravine, and Styers shot the child in the head.

Styers confessed and was sentenced to death. The only reason Debra Milke was brought up on charges was because of a police detective who swore that Styers implicated her in the boy's death. Styers denied he ever said it, but who was a jury going to believe? A guy who shot a child in the head or a police detective?

Turns out they shoulda gone with the guy who shot the kid. The detective was a lying sack of you-know-what. That's why a judge overturned Milke's conviction this week. 

So here we are, 22 years later. Debra Milke has a dead child. She's spent 22 years in prison with the world thinking she killed her kid.

What does she get now? How do you repay her?

This is one of the biggest problems with our justice system. When it gets things right, it's the best thing going. But when it gets things wrong, it gets them spectacularly wrong, and there's no undoing it.

You can overturn a conviction, but you can't undo 22 years in prison. You can't give a woman her life back.

I would like to pump my fists and celebrate justice finally served, but all I feel is the deepest sorrow on behalf of Debra Milke. She didn't win anything this week. She just didn't lose again.

What should be done for Debra Milke? Is there any way to repay her for what's been done to her?


Image via Arizona Department of Corrections

crime, death, death penalty


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jalaz77 jalaz77

Oh wow. How does that happen? I mean killing a 4 yr old boy the way he was killed. God his last thoughts was going to see Santa. Yea this lady still has a dead son, so heartbreaking. I wish I knew more though cause why would you be around such violent people? People that do stuff like this are usually evil long before something like this happens.

nonmember avatar Jen

Jalazz77-Evil people can disguise themselves. The BTK Killer was married to the same woman for decades and she had no clue. Comments like yours without any proof that mom knew what was going on is nothing short of victim blaming.

LeeshaE LeeshaE

I think that police officer should serve at least the time she had to. She should also file a civil suit with the police department.

Maevelyn Maevelyn

smh there was a doctor or something in PA who just made up evidence when he was the expert whitness. They had had to overturn convictions and retry ciminals. It's cost hundres of millions (bc if you are wrongfully convicted they have to pay you.)

Natalie May Cannon

I agree with LeeshaE! That is horrible. Not only did she lose her child but she served time for something she didn't do! Put the cop away! Why in the world would someone say they heard something when they didn't? Evil.

nonmember avatar MARRIANNA

I've seen this case several times documented on several reenactment shows, how was the detective determined to have lied

Debal... Debalexxa

She could become the voice for wrongful imprisonment.....poor woman ....

Donna Curnutt

And guilty Casey Anthony walked free after what she did! And this innocent lady spent 22 years? What's wrong with this picture?

Thom Stewart

nothing will ever make her whole again. However, criminal charges should be placed on the lying sos detective. A civil lawsuit should be filed against the detective and the the state should be held liable for the wrongful conviction and she should be paid accordingly.

NatAndCo NatAndCo

She was convicted based on what? The fact that a murderer said so? What happened to corroborating evidence?

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