A preliminary hearing may be scheduled in late October or early November for a transient accused of fatally stabbing 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe in 1998, a prosecutor said Monday.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Gary Schons said the date for Richard Tuite's preliminary hearing may be set at a Sept. 19 status conference before Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh.
Deddeh is expected to assign another judge to handle the preliminary hearing, or perhaps the entire case.
Tuite's trial -- if it happened next year -- could last up to six months, prosecutors said when the defendant was charged.
Defense attorney C. Bradley Patton told Superior Court Judge David Szumowski he is receiving thousands of pages of "discovery" material from prosecutors in a timely manner.
"Let's hope that continues," Szumowski said.
Tuite, 33, was charged with Stephanie's murder last May.
Witnesses said they saw the homeless schizophrenic in the area of the Crowe residence in Escondido the night of Jan. 20, 1998. Family members found the seventh-grader's body the next morning.
The victim's 14-year-old brother, Michael, and two friends originally were charged with her murder, after two of them "confessed" to the killing.
In 1999, a judge ruled that most of the admission was coerced by Escondido police and said it was inadmissible at trial.
DNA retesting revealed three stains of the victim's blood on one sleeve of a filthy sweatshirt Tuite was wearing at the time of the murder.
Authorities had said Tuite was too clumsy, confused and mentally unstable to have committed the crime and left the house without leaving any evidence behind.
At the district attorney's request, Superior Court Judge John Thompson dismissed the case against the boys.
Stephen and Cheryl Crowe filed a federal lawsuit against the county and other agencies, claiming their civil rights were violated because authorities ignored evidence that pointed to Tuite as the killer.
Tuite -- held without bail -- has a history of drug abuse and mostly nonviolent crimes, authorities said.
The defendant, who was one day from being released from prison when he was charged with Stephanie's murder, faces 27 years to life behind bars if convicted.
- May 22, 2002: Crowe Family Wants Civil Case Sped Up
- May 16, 2002: Tuite Pleads Not Guilty To Crowe Murder
- May 16, 2002: Tuite To Be Arraigned Today
- May 15, 2002: Tuite To Be Charged With Stephanie Crowe's Murder
- May 14, 2002: Arrest Looms In 1998 Child Killing
- December 3, 2001: Gag Order Lifted In Stephanie Crowe Case
- November 15, 2001: Crowe Murder Suspect Back In Prison
- July 11, 2001: Crowe Murder Suspect Released From Prison
- June 29, 2001: Breakthrough Expected In Crowe Murder Case
- May 30, 2001: Man Linked To Crowe Murder Back In Prison
- May 25, 2001: Man Investigated In Crowe Murder To Be Paroled
- November 28, 2000: Transient Suspected Of Escondido Murder Back Behind Bars
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