Defense calls Michael Crowe to the stand - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Defense calls Michael Crowe to the stand

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VISTA (CBS 8/CNS) - The older brother of Stephanie Crowe was on the stand Thursday to testify in the Richard Tuite retrial.

Michael Crowe and his friends were charged with Stephanie's 1998 murder before the charges were dropped. Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004, but it was overturned.

Crowe, 30, is now married with a child. But 15 years later one thing that hasn't changed -- he still denies he had anything to do with his sister's murder.

Shortly after the January 1998 murder, Michael Crowe, then 14, along with 15-year-old friends Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were charged with Stephanie's murder.

On the stand he answered question after question about the night his sister Stephanie was killed.

"I saw my sister on the floor with my mom over her," Michael Crowe testified. "I just remember not knowing what the heck was going on."

"What did you do when you saw her?" a prosecutor asked.

"I just remember being in the doorway and not knowing what to do… sorry, I don't like to think about it," he replied.

Michael and two friends were originally arrested for the murder after a false confession was coerced out of him, but those chargers were dropped after three drops of blood were found on Richard Tuite's shirt and he was in possession of items from the Crowe home. One focus Thursday was on Michael's relationship with his sister. He said they fought, but just like brothers and sisters do.

There were a number of details Michael had a hard time remembering. But when it came to the most serious questions, his words were the same as they were 15 years ago.

"Michael did you hate your sister?" a prosecutor asked.

"No," he responded.

"Do you miss your sister?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yeah," Crowe said.

"Would you ever put your family through this?" the prosecutor asked.

"No," he replied.

Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler said Stephanie Crowe's parents were in bed by 9:30 p.m. that night. Both said they thought they heard thumping and bumping sounds during the
night, Butler told the jury.

Stephanie Crowe's grandmother found her body about 6:30 a.m. the next day. She had been stabbed nine times.

"This is every parent's nightmare," the prosecutor said. Medical examiners estimate the victim's time of death between 10 and 10:30 p.m., Butler said.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Brad Patton said Tuite was not aggressive toward neighbors the night of the killing, and no one saw him with a weapon.

In addition, police found no signs of forced entry into the Crowe home, Patton said.

He said investigators at the crime scene failed to wear booties as they walked through the crime scene and could have contaminated evidence by transferring blood onto Tuite's shirts.

Patton told the jury that Tuite didn't kill Stephanie, saying that prosecutors wouldn't be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The families of Michael Crowe, Treadway and Houser 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. In late 2011, the Crowe family settled a suit for $7.25 million and in early 2012, a judge officially declared the boys factually innocent of the crime.

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