Wednesday, March 4, 2009
A group of attorneys who work to free the wrongly convicted is investigating whether further DNA testing is warranted in the case of a schizophrenic drifter who was found guilty five years ago in the stabbing death of young Stephanie Crowe in Escondido.
The California Innocence Project recently won a bid to investigate whether further DNA testing is warranted in the 1998 stabbing death of 12-year- old Crowe, The North County Times reported.
"At this stage, we are really only investigating the possibility that there might be untested DNA evidence," Jeff Chinn, associate director of the California Innocence Project, told the newspaper. "We haven't made a decision about taking any steps beyond that."
Small specks of Crowe's blood were located on Tuite's clothing, which was confiscated the day Crowe's body was found. Prosecutors argued Tuite was looking for someone else in the area when he stumbled upon Crowe and committed the murder, but his attorneys argued that investigators caused accidental contamination.
Escondido police were widely criticized for their handling of the case. Initially, police suspected Crowe's then-14-year-old brother and two of his friends.
Two of the boys confessed after many hours of intense interrogations but later recanted. A judge ruled the confessions were coerced.
In 2004, a Superior Court jury found Tuite guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The 38-year-old Tuite, who has maintained his innocence, is currently serving a 13-year sentence.