Don Boomer/North County Times
Attorney Brad Patton and Richard Tuite, right, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter of Stephanie Crowe, listens to Judge Frederic Link who sentenced Tuite to the maximum allowed.
The California Innocence Project, a group of attorneys who work to free the wrongly convicted, is reviewing the controversial case of mentally ill drifter Richard Tuite, who was found guilty five years ago in the stabbing death of young Stephanie Crowe.
Attorneys with the organization won their bid to investigate whether new and more extensive DNA testing is warranted in the 1998 Escondido slaying, said Professor Jan Stiglitz, co-director of the Innocence Project and professor at California Western School of Law.
"If we are able to determine that the wrong person has been convicted of the crime, then that will also lead to the right person being prosecuted," Stiglitz said.
Each year, hundreds of inmates ask the Innocence Project to review their case, but the project accepts only a handful of cases for study and possible appeal.
"We only take on cases where we believe there is a valid claim of factual innocence," Jeff Chinn, the project's associate director, told the North County Times.
On Feb. 18, Superior Court Judge Frederick Link, who presided over Tuite's trial five years ago, signed an order appointing the Innocence Project as Tuite's new attorneys.
Stephanie Crowe's mother, Cheryl Crowe, told the North County Times she is surprised by the Innocence Project's interest in the case.
"It's unfortunate that they are taking a second look at DNA work that was resolved at trial," Crowe said. "They are wasting time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere."