No One Found Guilty In Stephanie Crowe Killing
Monday, December 9, 2013
Aired 12/9/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
KPBS Senior Editor Mark Sauer covered the Stephanie Crowe murder case since it happened in 1998.
Richard Leo, Ph.D., J.D., is a visiting professor at the UCLA Law School. He is widely recognized as an expert in police interrogation and false confessions and has testified in numeral trials, including the first Tuite trial here in San Diego.
The jury decision left questions still swirling around the tragic killing that made national headlines 16 years ago.
Stephanie was 12 when her family found her stabbed to death on the bedroom floor of her Escondido home in January 1998.
Her 15-year-old brother Michael and two of his friends were soon arrested and charged with the crime. The Escondido police obtained confessions from the boys but the case against them fell apart when drops of the Stephanie's blood were discovered on the clothing of Richard Tuite, a mentally-ill drifter.
The boys were exonerated and found "factually innocent" in 2011 by a Superior Court judge.
Their confessions became another instance of police interrogations eliciting false confessions.
Tuite was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2004. But that conviction was overturned last year by an appeals court. In the retrial that ended last Friday, a jury found Tuite not guilty of voluntry manslaughter; he will now go free.