Women of Death Row

It’s Pronounced Kamala

August 19, 2020


In this episode of the The Women of Death Row podcast, hosts Amanda and Mariel take a look at the case of Maureen “Miki” McDermott after a brief time talking about the recent choice of Kamala Harris to be Joe Biden’s presidential running mate.  Moving into the main topic of the episode, listeners learn that Miki was born in 1947 in New Jersey, the third of four children and the only girl among her siblings.  After growing up in a working class family with a religious mother and an alcoholic and often absent father, Miki worked her way to a position as a nurse.  She was known for being compassionate, generous, and a lover of animals, and her colleagues continue to maintain her innocence for the crime that ultimately landed her on death row.  The problems for Miki arose in relation to an orderly at the hospital where she worked: Jimmy Luna.  Jimmy’s background was far darker than that of Miki.  He was born to parents who were heroin addicts and soon abandoned him, faced a great deal of abuse, and suffered from mental illness.  He was a liar, a convicted criminal, a violent man, and a compulsive phone caller.  He was understandably not well regarded by peers, although Miki remained kind to him.  Even after he was fired from the hospital, he continued to rely on Miki as a friend and provider.


However, Miki made plans with a colleague to spend time working in the Middle East.  She arranged for her friend Stephen Eldridge to buy into her property to care for it and her animals, and for a time, the two of them lived in the home together as roommates.  Miki was not in a position at that time to offer financial help to Jimmy, but he took it into his own hands to secure money from Miki by planning to kill her roommate and make a way to collect mortgage insurance money.  After one robbery effort before the night of the murder, Jimmy and two friends entered the home where Miki and Stephen resided.  They injured Miki by leaving her with a cut and hitting her on the head, and killed Stephen.  Stephen was stabbed 44 times and his body maimed.  In the investigation that followed, Miki faced a shambolic police investigation plagued by neglect, speculation, reliance on memory rather than notes, and flawed interview processes.  Lack of advanced investigative technology, lack of effort and a conflict of interests on the part of legal representation, and deals made by the perpetrators of the crime all worked together to land Miki in prison for a crime she denied having committed.  While Jimmy ended up with only life in prison, Miki lives on death row.  She appealed to the public for support in 2004, but her situation has not changed in any notable way since then.  After concluding the story on such a conflicting note, Amanda and Mariel wrap up the episode with talk of kittens, auctions, politics, disco, and more!




Learn more about Miki McDermott.

Learn more about The Women of Death Row.