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Parents of slain San Diego children speak on County District Attorney Summer Stephan

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 21:15:38-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - High-profile supporters and opponents of San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan weighed in Friday on her bid to remain the county’s top attorney.

Brent and Kelly King, the parents of Chelsea King, held a morning press conference to back Stephan’s candidacy in the district attorney’s race.

The Kings, who are in San Diego for the weekend to give scholarships to students through the Chelsea’s Light foundation, said they believe Stephan is experienced in dealing with horrific cases like their daughter’s. They said Stephan brings compassion to them because she too is a mother.

RELATED: Poll: Stephan leads Jones-Wright in DA race ahead of June 5 election

The Kings said they reached out to Stephan to see how they can show their support after seeing campaign ads a few days ago.

Brent King said of Stephan: “Her heart cares about children. When you go through what we went through, you need to have someone who advocates on behalf of a victim … Kelly and I are carrying a life sentence, our son is carrying a life sentence, our daughter is not here. You need somebody in the DA's office that understands that, and that's compassionate towards it, and will do everything they can to help you find justice.”

Convicted sex offender John Gardner admitted to raping and killing 17-year-old Chelsea in 2010, and he struck a deal with prosecutors in which he also pleaded guilty to killing and raping 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido.

Gardner is currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Chelsea’s death was the inspiration behind Chelsea’s Law, which mandates lifetime prison terms for those convicted of violent sex crimes against children, as well as other regulations for sex offenders.

About 30 minutes after the Kings’ press conference in Carmel Valley, the mother of Stephanie Crowe held a news conference of her own to urge voters to reject Stephan’s candidacy.

Cheryl Crowe, with dozens of others opposing Stephan, said at her downtown news conference, “It's been 20 years, but it doesn't go away. My daughter was murdered in 1998. That being said it was only compounded by a prosecutor, Summer Stephen, lying and making our lives even worse."

Crowe then added, “As DA, you want someone who’s going to be truthful to families, not hurt them … All she had to do was tell the truth and have some ethics.”

In January 1998, 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found dead in the bedroom of her family’s Escondido home, and her brother Michael was named a suspect by Stephan, a prosecutor in the case.

Richard Tuite, a transient, was later identified as a suspect and eventually convicted of manslaughter in connection with Stephanie’s death. In 2013, Tuite was acquitted in a retrial.

The charge against Michael Crowe was eventually dropped, and with no one serving prison time for Stephanie’s murder, the Crowe family has placed the blame on Stephan.