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Calif. Innocence Project Investigating Stephanie Crowe Case

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.


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