Stephanie Crowe's parents testify in Tuite retrial - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Stephanie Crowe's parents testify in Tuite retrial

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    A drifter obsessed with finding a female friend in rural Escondido wandered into the home of a 12-year-old girl and fatally stabbed her, a prosecutor said Thursday.
     
    A drifter obsessed with finding a female friend in rural Escondido wandered into the home of a 12-year-old girl and fatally stabbed her, a prosecutor said Thursday, but a defense attorney blamed the killing on the victim's jealous 14-year-old brother and two of his teenage buddies. 

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Fifteen years later it isn't any easier for the mother of Stephanie Crowe to talk about the night of January 20, 1998.

Cheryl Crowe was the first witness to take the stand in the retrial of Richard Tuite, a transient accused of fatally stabbing her daughter, Stephanie.

"I don't want to remember but yeah, I think about it. But I don't want to," Cheryl Crowe said.

Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter, but a federal appeals court reversed the conviction in 2011, saying Tuite didn't get a fair trial because a judge limited cross-examination of a prosecution witness.

Although CBS News 8 has interviewed Stephanie's parents countless times on camera, the judge ordered us not to show their face this time around. The two found themselves back in court nine years after the 12-year-old's alleged killer, Richard Tuite, was found guilty of manslaughter. But a federal appeals court overturned his conviction on a technicality, saying her didn't get a fair trial.

Going over the gruesome details of the crime for a second time wasn't easy.

Crowe testified that her mother woke her up the morning of Jan. 21, 1998, after finding Stephanie dead in her bedroom.

"My mom told me to get up. (She said) something's wrong with Stephanie," Crowe testified. "Our whole world changed."

Crowe said she laid on top of her daughter to try to warm her up while her husband Steve ran around screaming, "God, no, why? No."

"My whole world was flipped upside down," she said. "Still is."

The prosecution's aim is to reconvict Tuite, saying he was a mentally ill transient and that Stephanie's blood was found on his shirt. Both sides questioned Stephanie's parents, going over detail after detail.

The prosecutor said investigators focused on the girl's brother, Michael, believing he was jealous of his high-achieving sister.

Eventually, Michael Crowe and his then-15-year-old friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were 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 red shirt Tuite was wearing the night of the killing and a white shirt he had on underneath.

A judge ruled that so-called confessions from the boys were coerced under harsh interrogation tactics by Escondido police and an assisting Oceanside police officer.

It isn't clear how long the retrial of Tuite will last, but it's clear it will be just as hard for the Crowes as it was almost a decade ago.

"Time stood still, it just seemed like forever... she's just gone," Cheryl Crowe said.

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