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SAN DIEGO — Richard Tuite, who was acquitted last week in the 1998 slaying of Stephanie Crowe, was released from jail Friday into the custody of a state parole agent, the California Department of Corrections said.

Richard TuiteThe parole agent is accompanying Tuite to an unspecified address outside of San Diego County, where he will live while he serves his brief parole,  corrections officials said. Due to the amount of time Tuite has spent in custody in the long-running case, he will spend only 10 days on parole, the maximum allowed by law, CDCR spokesman Bill Sessa said.

Tuite, 44, was acquitted last Friday of a voluntary manslaughter charge after a second trial. He was convicted of the same charge in 2004, but a federal appeals court in 2011 ruled that Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Tuite’s original sentence was 13 years in prison for the manslaughter count and four years, four months behind bars for escaping from custody at the downtown courthouse and offering a deputy $24,000 to help him escape.

Before Tuite was prosecuted, Stephanie’s brother, Michael Crowe, and friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were accused of her murder, and police extracted confessions. However, the admissions were later ruled to have been coerced by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside officer under harsh interrogation tactics and the case against the boys was dismissed.

Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser testified during Tuite’s retrial that they had no involvement in Stephanie’s murder.

Tuite was in the area of the Crowe residence the night Stephanie was stabbed to death, looking for woman named Tracy.

Prosecutors theorized that Tuite wandered into the Crowe home and killed Stephanie, but investigators found no physical evidence linking Tuite to the crime scene.

Analysts later found the victim’s blood on two shirts that Tuite was wearing the night of the murder. Jurors who voted to acquit Tuite said they believed the defense theory of contamination, that blood from the crime scene somehow was transferred onto Tuite’s clothing.

SAN DIEGO – The man exonerated in the 1998 stabbing death of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe remained in jail nearly a week after his manslaughter acquittal, but his freedom could be days away.

Richard Tuite, 44, served more than nine years in prison for Crowe’s murder and is waiting for a few administrative hurdles to be figured out before walking out of jail a free man.

“[The delay is]really just a paper modification process,” Tuite’s defense attorney Brad Patton said of the paperwork being processed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

123 Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 5.09.31 PM[1] copyTuite was resentenced Tuesday on two other charges – including trying to escape prison in 2004.  The judge gave him credit for time served. The Department of Corrections has five days to decide if Tuite will be placed on parole.

The extra few days in custody will give his family time to prepare for his transition to freedom.

“It’s a matter of getting him relocated and settled in and not having any pressure in that transition,” said Patton. “Kerry, his sister is working very hard to make it smooth.”

Crowe was found stabbed to death inside her bedroom in 1998. Tuite, a known mentally ill transient, was found guilty and convicted in 2004, but the verdict was overturned in 2011. He was retried and a jury found him not guilty on Friday.

His release is a satisfying win for those who stood by him from the beginning.

“I’ve always believed very strongly that Richard Tuite was not involved in these offenses,” Patton said.

Television cameras were not allowed inside the court proceedings, but Patton who describes Tuite’s demeanor as introverted and quiet said it was obvious he was happy.

“He turned back to his sister and gave her a loving smile because she has been with him throughout this process,” he said.

“For Richard going from the contained environment he’s been in to back into family’s hands is a big change – a wonderful change, but a big change!” said Patton.

Before Tuite was prosecuted, Stephanie’s brother, Michael Crowe, and friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were accused of her murder, and police extracted confessions. However, the admissions were later ruled to have been coerced by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside officer under harsh interrogation tactics and the case against the boys was dismissed.

Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser testified during Tuite’s retrial that they had no involvement in Stephanie’s murder.

Tuite was in the area of the Crowe residence the night Stephanie was stabbed to death, looking for woman named Tracy.

Prosecutors theorized that Tuite wandered into the Crowe home and killed Stephanie, but investigators found no physical evidence linking Tuite to the crime scene.

Analysts later found the victim’s blood on two shirts that Tuite was wearing the night of the murder. Jurors who voted to acquit Tuite said they believed the defense theory of contamination, that blood from the crime scene somehow was transferred onto Tuite’s clothing.

SAN DIEGO — A man who spent almost a decade in prison before being acquitted last week in the 1998 stabbing death of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe moved closer to freedom Tuesday when a judge resentenced him to credit for time served for escape and bribery convictions.

Richard Tuite

Richard Tuite

Richard Tuite, 44, was acquitted last Friday of a voluntary manslaughter charge after a second trial. He was convicted of the same charge in 2004, but a federal appeals court in 2011 ruled that Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Tuite’s original sentence was 13 years in prison for the manslaughter count and four years, four months behind bars for escaping from custody at the downtown courthouse and offering a deputy $24,000 to help him escape.

Judge Frederic Link ruled Tuesday that Tuite had served his time in custody for those offenses.

It will now be up to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to determine if Tuite should be placed on parole — the length would likely be about a year — said defense attorney Brad Patton. Once the determination is made, Tuite should be released, probably in about 10 days, Patton said.

“His (Tuite’s) family is working on a transition process for him,” the attorney said. “Right now it’s just a matter of getting him relocated, settled in, not having a lot of pressure. That transition will be made smoothly, and Kerri, his sister, is working very diligently to cause that to happen. This is just a process where he is very much looking forward to getting back with his family.”

Before Tuite was prosecuted, Stephanie’s brother, Michael Crowe, and friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were accused of her murder, and police extracted confessions. However, the admissions were later ruled to have been coerced by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside officer under harsh interrogation tactics and the case against the boys was dismissed.

Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser testified during Tuite’s retrial that they had no involvement in Stephanie’s murder.

Tuite was in the area of the Crowe residence the night Stephanie was stabbed to death, looking for woman named Tracy.

Prosecutors theorized that Tuite wandered into the Crowe home and killed Stephanie, but investigators found no physical evidence linking Tuite to the crime scene.

Analysts later found the victim’s blood on two shirts that Tuite was wearing the night of the murder. Jurors who voted to acquit Tuite said they believed the defense theory of contamination, that blood from the crime scene somehow was transferred onto Tuite’s clothing.

SAN DIEGO — After just over a day of deliberations, a jury found Richard Tuite not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 1998 stabbing death of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe.

Richard Tuite

Richard Tuite reacts to the not guilty verdict

It was the second time that Tuite, 44, had been tried for the Jan. 20, 1998, death of Stephanie Crowe. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2004, but a federal appeals court in 2011 ruled that Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Tuite’s sister cried as the verdict was announced. After the jury exited the courtroom, Tuite shook hands with his legal team.

Tuite, who has been serving a 17-year sentence, is expected to be released from custody soon, said his attorney, Brad Patton.

“I believe this whole thing was an injustice,” Patton told reporters. “Without question, I have always believed very strongly that Richard Tuite did not commit this offense.”

Before Tuite was prosecuted, Stephanie’s brother, Michael Crowe, and two of his friends were accused of her murder, and police extracted confessions. However, the admissions were later ruled to have been coerced by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside officer under harsh interrogation tactics.

In closing arguments of Tuite’s retrial Wednesday, Patton told jurors that Tuite had never been in the Crowe house and wouldn’t have been able to find Stephanie’s bedroom in the dark home. In addition, Patton said, investigators did not find Tuite’s fingerprints or DNA in the residence.

Patton said Stephanie must have been held down under a comforter to keep her quiet while another person stabbed her.

The attorney said one of her brother’s friends, Joshua Treadway, told police that another pal, Aaron Houser, gave him the knife used to kill Stephanie and told him to get rid of it.

Patton told the jurors that they were not responsible for determining if the boys committed the crime, but said it did raise doubt as to whether Tuite killed the victim.

Outside court Friday, an emotional juror, Peggy Chaplin, said there was no evidence that Tuite was ever in the Crowe residence that night.

Chaplin said deciding the case was a “tremendous burden,” She said the jurors’ hearts go out to the Crowe family.

“We never lost sight of their tragedy,” Chaplin said.

Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler said during her closing argument that Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie was killed, knocking on doors and looking for a woman named Tracy.

“He was angry. He was obsessed and delusional,” Butler told the jury.

Butler said the victim’s blood was found on a long-sleeve red shirt and a white T-shirt that Tuite was wearing when he was contacted by police the next day.

The prosecutor said Tuite wandered into the Crowe home about 10 p.m. through an open door, went into Stephanie’s bedroom and stabbed her at least nine times.

“This is where proximity meets opportunity,” Butler said. “Once he got in the house, I can’t tell you exactly what happened there.”

Butler said Tuite was “not well” and was angry at Tracy because she had turned him away a couple years earlier.

“He just couldn’t stop thinking about Tracy,” the prosecutor said. “He couldn’t handle it.”

Butler said the theory that Michael Crowe, along with Treadway and Houser, were responsible for her death was not a reasonable interpretation of the evidence and should be rejected.

The teenagers were charged with murder in 1998. The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on Tuite’s shirts.

Experts testified that the blood stains got on the shirts through contamination during the crime scene analysis, Patton said.

“They (the stains) were not there at the time those shirts were originally evaluated,” Patton said.

The families of Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the cities of Escondido and Oceanside on grounds they were denied their rights against self-incrimination and false arrest. In late 2011, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and in early 2012, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.

Patton said he didn’t think there would be another prosecution in the case.

The attorney said Tuite will return to his family once he’s released.

“Richard does well when he maintains on his medications,” Patton said. “He will be on disability, there’s no question about that. So, he will have a normal life … Fortunately, he has the support of family which will make all the difference in the world for him.”

richard-tuite

Richard Tuite, 43, had been serving a 17-year prison sentence when the appeals court last year reversed his 2004 manslaughter conviction for killing 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe.

SAN DIEGO – A transient who was going door-to-door looking for a female friend in rural Escondido wandered into the home of a 12-year-old girl in 1998 and stabbed her to death, a prosecutor said Wednesday, but a defense attorney said there was reasonable doubt and pointed the finger at the victim’s brother and two teenage friends.

Jurors began deliberations this afternoon in the retrial of Richard Tuite, who was previously found guilty in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter in the Jan. 20, 1998, death of Stephanie Crowe.

A federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross examination of a prosecution witness.

Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler said in his closing argument Wednesday that Tuite, 44, was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie was killed, knocking on doors and looking for a woman named Tracy.

“He was angry. He was obsessed and delusional,” Butler told the jury.

Butler said the victim’s blood was found on a long-sleeve red shirt and a white T-shirt that Tuite was wearing when he was contacted by police the next day.

The prosecutor said Tuite wandered into the Crowe home about 10 p.m. through an open door, went into Stephanie’s bedroom and stabbed her at least nine times.

“This is where proximity meets opportunity,” Butler said.

“Once he got in the house, I can’t tell you exactly what happened there.”

Butler said Tuite was “not well” and was angry at Tracy because she had turned him away a couple years earlier.

“He just couldn’t stop thinking about Tracy,” the prosecutor said. “He couldn’t handle it.”

Butler said the theory that Stephanie’s older brother, Michael, and friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were responsible for her death was not a reasonable interpretation of the evidence and should be rejected.

But Tuite’s attorney, Brad Patton, told the jury that his client was not guilty because Butler hadn’t proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Patton said Tuite had never been in the Crowe house and wouldn’t have been able to find Stephanie’s bedroom in the dark home.

In addition, Patton said, investigators did not find Tuite’s fingerprints or DNA in the residence.

Patton said Stephanie must have been held down under a comforter to keep her quiet while another person stabbed her.

The attorney said Treadway told police that Houser gave him the knife used to kill Stephanie and told him to get rid of it.

Patton told the jury that it was not responsible for determining if the boys committed the crime, but said it did raise doubt as to whether Tuite killed the victim.

“The fact of the matter is, Mr. Tuite did not do this crime,” Patton said.

Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser were charged with murder in 1998.

The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on Tuite’s shirts.

A judge ruled that so-called confessions from the boys were coerced by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside officer under harsh interrogation.

SAN DIEGO — A man who as a teen was one of three boys originally charged with the 1998 murder of a 12-year-old Escondido girl testified Monday that he has virtually no memory of the killing and the events surrounding it.

“In the last 15 years, I’ve done everything I can to block this from my memory,” Joshua Treadway testified in the retrial of Richard Tuite, a transient convicted in 2004 in Stephanie Crowe’s death.

Treadway testified after two days of watching a police interview and confession from Feb. 10, 1998, in which he told officers that his friend and Stephanie’s older brother, Michael, had a fetish for killing, hated his sister and didn’t like being referred to as “Stephanie’s brother.”

Treadway told Tuite’s attorney, Brad Patton, that he didn’t remember telling officers that Michael Crowe had told him he wanted to kill his sister. He said if the statements were in previous court transcripts, he must have said them, but Treadway told Patton he had memory of such statements.

“I’ve done my best to block out the entire experience,” Treadway told Patton.

On cross-examination, Treadway told Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler that he made a decision about eight years ago to get the events out of his mind.

“The events were extremely painful for me,” Treadway testified, saying he tried medications and self-hypnosis to try to forget what happened.

Treadway said he never left his home the night of the murder. He said Michael Crowe called him the next day about his sister’s death.

“I felt shocked and really sad,” said Treadway, recalling the news was like being punched in the stomach.

Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter in Stephanie’s death, but a federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Shortly after the January 1998 murder, Michael Crowe, then 14, along with Treadway and Aaron Houser, were charged with Stephanie’s murder.

The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on a red shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing and a white shirt he had on underneath. A judge ruled that the so-called confessions from the boys were coerced under harsh interrogation tactics by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside police officer.

Michael Crowe testified last week that he woke up at about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 21, 1998, walked to the kitchen to take something for a headache, and returned to his bedroom.

He was later awakened by his father’s screams for help.

Stephanie-Crowe“I saw my sister on the floor with my mom over her,” Michael Crowe testified. “I just remember not knowing what the heck was going on.”

During questioning from Patton, Michael Crowe denied hating his sister and said he wasn’t jealous of her.

The witness also denied telling fellow detainees at Juvenile Hall that he had killed his sister.

Michael Crowe admitted wearing all black at the time and being into fantasy writings about maiming and slaughter.

In her opening statement of trial, Butler told a jury that Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie Crowe was killed. Investigators later found the victim’s blood on Tuite’s shirt and the defendant had items in his pockets from inside the Crowe residence when he was stopped and questioned the next day, Butler said.

Butler said Tuite exhibited “obsessive, delusional and rage-filled behavior” the night of the killing, knocking on doors at homes near the victim’s house looking for a friend named “Tracy.”

In one church parking lot, Tuite said, “You (expletive) bitch. I’m going to kill you,” according to Butler.

Another resident said Tuite was acting “extremely erratic” when he came to his door, the prosecutor said.

Butler said Stephanie Crowe’s parents were in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night. Both said they thought they heard thumping and bumping sounds during the night, Butler told the jury.

Stephanie Crowe’s grandmother found her body about 6:30 a.m. the next day. She had been stabbed nine times.

“This is every parent’s nightmare,” the prosecutor said. Medical examiners estimated the victim’s time of death between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Butler said.

In his opening statement, Patton said Tuite was not aggressive toward neighbors the night of the killing, and no one saw him with a weapon.

In addition, police found no signs of forced entry into the Crowe home, Patton said.

He said investigators at the crime scene failed to wear booties as they walked through the crime scene and could have contaminated evidence by transferring blood onto Tuite’s shirts.

Patton told the jury that Tuite didn’t kill Stephanie, saying that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The families of Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the cities of Escondido and Oceanside on grounds they were denied their rights against self-incrimination and false arrest. In late 2011, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and in early 2012, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.

——– Story by Kelley Wheeler of City News Service

SAN DIEGO — The older brother of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe, originally charged with her murder, cried as he testified Thursday about seeing his sister’s body lying in her bedroom in their rural Escondido home more than 15 years ago.

Michael Crowe, now 30, testified in a retrial for Richard Tuite.

Stephanie-CroweTuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter in Stephanie Crowe’s death six years earlier, but a federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Shortly after the January 1998 murder, Michael Crowe, then 14, along with 15-year-old friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were charged with Stephanie’s murder.

The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on a red shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing and a white shirt he had on underneath. A judge ruled that so-called confessions from the boys were coerced under harsh interrogation tactics by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside police officer.

Michael Crowe, called to the witness stand by Tuite’s defense team today, testified that he woke up at about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, 1998, walked to the kitchen to take something for a headache, and returned to his bedroom.

He was later awakened by his father’s screams for help.

“I saw my sister on the floor with my mom over her,” Michael Crowe testified. “I just remember not knowing what the heck was going on.”

During questioning from defense attorney Brad Patton, Michael Crowe denied hating his sister and said he wasn’t jealous of her.

The witness also denied telling fellow detainees at Juvenile Hall that he had killed his sister.

Michael Crowe admitted wearing all black at the time and being into fantasy writings about maiming and slaughter.

In her opening statement of trial, Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler told a jury that Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie Crowe was killed. Investigators later found the victim’s blood on Tuite’s shirt and the defendant had items in his pockets from inside the Crowe residence when he was stopped and questioned the next day, Butler said.

Butler said Tuite exhibited “obsessive, delusional and rage-filled behavior” the night of the killing, knocking on doors at homes near the victim’s house looking for a friend named “Tracy.”

In one church parking lot, Tuite said, “You (expletive) bitch. I’m going to kill you,” according to Butler.

Another resident said Tuite was acting “extremely erratic” when he came to his door, the prosecutor said.

Butler said Stephanie Crowe’s parents were in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night. Both said they thought they heard thumping and bumping sounds during the night, Butler told the jury.

Stephanie Crowe’s grandmother found her body about 6:30 a.m. the next day. She had been stabbed nine times.

“This is every parent’s nightmare,” the prosecutor said. Medical examiners estimate the victim’s time of death between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Butler said.

In his opening statement, Patton said Tuite was not aggressive toward neighbors the night of the killing, and no one saw him with a weapon.

In addition, police found no signs of forced entry into the Crowe home, Patton said.

He said investigators at the crime scene failed to wear booties as they walked through the crime scene and could have contaminated evidence by transferring blood onto Tuite’s shirts.

Patton told the jury that Tuite didn’t kill Stephanie, saying that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The families of Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the cities of Escondido and Oceanside on grounds they were denied their rights against self-incrimination and false arrest. In late 2011, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and in early 2012, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.

Stephanie-CroweSAN DIEGO — The mother of a 12-year-old girl killed in 1998 testified Monday that her “whole world changed” when she found her daughter dead in their rural Escondido home.

Cheryl Crowe was the first witness to take the stand in the retrial of Richard Tuite, a transient accused of fatally stabbing her daughter, Stephanie.

Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter, but a federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Crowe testified that her mother woke her up the morning of Jan. 21, 1998, after finding Stephanie dead in her bedroom.

“My mom told me to get up. (She said) something’s wrong with Stephanie,” Crowe testified. “Our whole world changed.”

Crowe said she laid on top of her daughter to try to warm her up while her husband Steve ran around screaming, “God, no, why? No.”

“My whole world was flipped upside down,” she said. “Still is.”

In her opening statement last week, Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler said Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie was killed. Investigators later found the victim’s blood on Tuite’s shirt and the defendant had items in his pockets from inside the Crowe residence when he was stopped and questioned the next day, Butler said.

Butler said Tuite exhibited “obsessive, delusional and rage-filled behavior” the night of the killing, knocking on doors at homes near the victim’s house looking for a friend named “Tracy.”

In one church parking lot, Tuite said, “You (expletive) bitch. I’m going to kill you,” according to Butler.

Another resident said Tuite was acting “extremely erratic” when he came to his door, the prosecutor said.

Butler said the victim’s parents were in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night. Both said they thought they heard thumping and bumping sounds during the night, Butler told the jury.

Stephanie was stabbed nine times. Medical examiners estimate the time of death between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Butler said.

The prosecutor said investigators focused on the girl’s brother, Michael, believing he was jealous of his high-achieving sister.

Eventually, Michael Crowe and his then-15-year-old friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were charged with murder.

The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on a red shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing and a white shirt he had on underneath.

——— Story by Kelly Wheeler of City News Service

SAN DIEGO — A drifter obsessed with finding a female friend in rural Escondido wandered into the home of a 12-year-old girl and fatally stabbed her, a prosecutor said Sunday, but a defense attorney blamed the killing on the victim’s jealous 14-year-old brother and two of his teenage buddies.

Richard Tuite

Richard Tuite

Richard Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter in the 1998 death of Stephanie Crowe, but a federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn’t get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Tuite, in a retrial expected to last five to six weeks, faces the same charge of manslaughter.

In her opening statement Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler told a jury that Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie Crowe was killed, Jan. 20, 1998. Investigators later found the victim’s blood on Tuite’s shirt and the defendant had items in his pockets from inside the Crowe residence when he was stopped and questioned the next day, Butler said.

Butler said Tuite exhibited “obsessive, delusional and rage-filled behavior” the night of the killing, knocking on doors at homes near the victim’s house looking for a friend named “Tracy.”

In one church parking lot, Tuite said, “You (expletive) bitch. I’m going to kill you,” according to Butler.

Another resident said Tuite was acting “extremely erratic” when he came to his door, the prosecutor said.

Butler said Stephanie Crowe’s parents were in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night. Both said they thought they heard thumping and bumping sounds during the night, Butler told the jury.

Stephanie-Crowe

Stephanie Crowe

Stephanie Crowe’s grandmother found her body about 6:30 a.m. the next day. She had been stabbed nine times.

“This is every parent’s nightmare,” the prosecutor said. Medical examiners estimate the victim’s time of death between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Butler said.

The prosecutor said investigators focused on Stephanie Crowe’s brother, Michael, believing he was jealous of his high-achieving sister.

Eventually, Michael Crowe and his then-15-year-old friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were charged with murder.

The District Attorney’s Office later dropped all charges against the boys just before trial when Stephanie’s blood was found on a red shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing and a white shirt he had on underneath. A judge ruled that so-called confessions from the boys were coerced under harsh interrogation tactics by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside police officer.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Brad Patton said Tuite was not aggressive toward neighbors the night of the killing, and no one saw him with a weapon.

Patton said Michael Crowe was isolated, played violent video games and was jealous of his sister Stephanie.

“Michael Crowe had a jealousy and a hatred for his sister,” Patton told the jury.

After his arrest, Michael Crowe told others in the juvenile lockup that he killed his sister, according to Patton.

In addition, Treadway told police that Houser was obsessed with killing and offered to help Michael Crowe if he was serious about killing Stephanie, Patton said.

The night of the killing, Michael Crowe and Houser went into Stephanie’s bedroom and Treadway was told to be a lookout, Patton said.

Police found no signs of forced entry into the home, Patton said.

He said investigators at the crime scene failed to wear booties as they walked through the crime scene and could have contaminated evidence by transferring blood onto Tuite’s shirts.

Patton told the jury that Tuite didn’t kill Stephanie, saying that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The families of Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the cities of Escondido and Oceanside on grounds they were denied their rights against self-incrimination and false arrest. In late 2011, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and in early 2012, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.

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