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Retrial Set In Killing Of Escondido Child, Stephanie Crowe

Stephanie Crowe

Above: Stephanie Crowe


Mark Sauer, KPBS Senior Editor

Guylyn Cummins is a 1st Amendment attorney with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's San Diego office.


Jury selection begins this week in the retrial of Richard Tuite for the killing of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe.

The stabbing death of Stephanie Crowe happened 15 years ago in Escondido and the case has morphed into one of the most complex legal dramas in San Diego history.

Richard Tuite, a mentally ill transient, was convicted in 2004 of stabbing Stephanie Crowe to death in her bedroom.

Originally, the girl's brother Michael and two of his friends were accused of the January 1998 homicide.

But charges against the three high school freshmen were dropped a year after the killing when an independent lab discovered drops of Stephanie's blood on clothing Tuite wore the night of the crime.

Tuite's conviction for involuntary manslaughter led to a 13-year sentence.

The Crowes later settled a federal lawsuit against Escondido for Michael's false arrest and imprisonment, collecting more than $7 million.

Last year a superior court judge declared Michael Crowe and his friends "factually innocent" in the killing of Stephanie after reviewing all evidence in the case.

But last fall, Tuite's conviction was overturned on a technicality by a divided federal appeals court panel of three judges. He remains in custody. Tuite's attorneys say they will once again argue that Tuite is innocent and that Michael Crowe and his friends committed the crime.

The proceeding before Judge Frederic Link is expected to last 2 months.

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