On Monday, a judge formally dismissed the case against Debra Milke, who spent 22 years on death row after being convicted of conspiring to murder her 4-year-old son, The Associated Press reports. The case relied heavily on the work of a detective who has since been discredited. Prosecutors lost their final appeal last week.
"I just wanted to start off by saying I had absolutely nothing to do with the brutal murder of my son, Christoper," Milke said at a press conference on Tuesday. "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."
Authorities say Milke dressed him in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. He was then taken to the desert near Phoenix by two men, one of whom was Milke's roommate, and shot in the back of the head.
Prosecutors alleged that Milke was after the insurance payout.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Milke's conviction and death sentence in March 2013. "No civilized system of justice should have to depend on such flimsy evidence," the court wrote. She has been free on bond since then, wearing an electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet and awaiting the Arizona Supreme Court's decision on prosecutors' appeals to reinstate the charges.
Prosecutors did not disclose that the detective, Armando Saldate—who claimed that Milke had confessed to him—had a history of lying under oath. There was no witness to the confession and it was not recorded. "I believe he gave honest testimony," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in 2013.