Confession video shown to Richard Tuite jury in retrial on Stephanie Crowe manslaughter charges

1998 video shows classmate of victim's brother

SAN DIEGO - The jury in the retrial of Richard Tuite watched nearly six hours of video Friday of the interrogation of one of the three boys initially accused in the stabbing death of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe.

In the video, a sometimes-tearful Joshua Treadway is seen being questioned about the girl's murder. He told of acting as a lookout while the other two committed the crime, and he sobbed as he voiced fear of being murdered himself if he were ever found out to have talked about the killing.

Tuite, 44, was convicted in 2004 of voluntary manslaughter in Stephanie Crowe's death six years earlier, 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.

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

The San Diego County 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.

In her opening statement of the trial, Deputy Attorney General Alana Butler told a jury that Tuite was in the area of the Crowe home the night Stephanie Crowe was killed. Investigators later found the victim's blood on Tuite's shirt and the defendant had items in his pockets from inside the Crowe residence when he was stopped and questioned the next day, Butler said.

Butler said Tuite exhibited "obsessive, delusional and rage-filled behavior" the night of the killing, knocking on doors at homes near the victim's house looking for a friend named "Tracy."

In one church parking lot, Tuite said, "You (expletive) bitch. I'm going to kill you," according to Butler.

Another resident said Tuite was acting "extremely erratic" when he came to his door, the prosecutor said.

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, 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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