Jury selection to begin for retrial of Richard Tuite - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury selection to begin for retrial of Richard Tuite

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Nearly 16 years after 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was killed, the transient accused in her stabbing death will again face trial.

Nine years ago Richard Tuite was convicted of killing the Escondido girl. But two years ago a federal appeals court threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial.

"I think the evidence against Tuite is so thin and so small, he shouldn't be prosecuted."

Defense Attorney Allen Bloom isn't involved in this case but has been watching it closely from the beginning.

It started back in January 1998 when Stephanie was found stabbed to death inside her Escondido home.

A false confession was coerced out of Stephanie's brother, leading to the arrest of Michael Crowe and two friends. But those charges were dismissed when DNA testing found three drops of Stephanie's blood on Tuite's shirt.

In 2004, jurors ruled Tuite was too mentally unstable to be convicted of murder but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and he got 13 years in prison.

But in 2011 his conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court which ruled the judge in the case made a mistake by limiting a witnesses cross examination.

"It doesn't help a young girl who is killed to get justice if you get false confessions or if you don't allow full evidence to come in... Or if you keep things out that shouldn't be kept out... It's wrong."

On Tuesday, jury selection will start for Tuite's new trial, which is expected to last about two months.

"Both sides will know what the other is going to be presenting - usually retrials favor the prosecution," Bloom said. "Because there's no element of surprise and so forth."

Michael Crowe was declared by a judge last year to be "factually innocent" in the killing of his sister, meaning the facts show he didn't do it.

Meanwhile, Tuite has been in jail since his initial arrest - so even if he is convicted he has so much credit for time served - he probably wouldn't even spend a year behind bars.

Stephanie's family has said in the past that they want Tuite re-tried even if it means opening painful wounds. 

They say they want to make sure this case doesn't stay unresolved forever.

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