Bail set for transient facing retrial in Escondido girl's death
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A judge set bail at $1 million Friday for a man whose conviction in the killing of 12-year-old Escondido girl was reversed by a federal appeals court.
Richard Tuite, 43, remained in custody following the reversal last year because he faces a retrial on a charge of voluntary manslaughter. He had been serving a 17-year prison sentence when the appeals court reversed his 2004 manslaughter conviction, ruling the trial was unfair because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.
The case was assigned Friday to Judge Frederic Link, the same judge who presided over Tuite's first trial.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Jim Dutton unsuccessfully argued that Tuite be held without bail pending the retrial, which is set for May 13.
Tuite's attorney, Brad Patton, told the judge that his client has been in custody since 2002 on charges related to the Crowe case. When the case is finally resolved, Tuite will have done his time and will be given credit for time served, Patton said.
Link said he had to set some amount of bail. He said $1 million was justified because Tuite has a history of not showing up to court and is still a danger to the community.
Tuite is accused in the January 1998 stabbing death of Stephanie Crowe. The girl's then-14-year-old brother, Michael, and two of his then-15-year-old friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were initially suspected in the killing, and each was 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 shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing. A judge ruled so-called confessions from the boys were coerced under harsh interrogation tactics by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside police officer.
The families of all three boys later 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. Last fall, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and earlier this year, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.
Tuite, a schizophrenic drifter, was known to frequent the area around the Crowe home. Escondido police detained Tuite in the neighborhood and collected his clothes shortly after the killing but let him go free as investigators focused their attention on the boys.
Authorities later theorized that Tuite attacked Stephanie Crowe because she resembled a girl with whom Tuite was obsessed.
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