Richard Tuite, found not guilty last week in the 1998 murder of Escondido teenager Stephanie Crowe, left San Diego county jail at about 1 p.m. Friday, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) told NBC 7 San Diego.
Tuite will be taken by a state parole officer to an undisclosed location outside of San Diego County, where he will serve 10 days of state parole, said CDCR spokesman Bill Sessa.
Tuite must also wear a GPS monitoring device during that parole period, and must register as a sex offender for life, due to a prior sex offense, unrelated to the Crowe case.
In an interview earlier today with NBC 7, Sessa said Tuite will be assigned to a state parole officer who specializes in sex offenders. Those specialized parole officers have smaller case loads, so Tuite will get more attention from his parole officer.
Tuite also has a history of mental illness, and will receive special assistance in that area, possibly including mental health counseling and psychiatric medications, Sessa told NBC 7.
Local TV news stations have posted photographers on both sides of the San Diego County jail all week long in anticipation of Tuite's release from county jail.
But those news crews did not see Tuite inside any of the vehicles that left the jail early this afternoon, or at any time earlier. The photographers outside the jail said the vehicles in which Tuite may have been traveling had heavily tinted windows, making it impossible to see the passengers inside those vehicles.
Tuite, convicted in 2004 in the slaying of Stephanie Crowe, was acquitted by a jury on Dec. 6, exactly one week ago.
The 15-year-old case of Stephanie Crowe’s slaying has been filled with twists and turns.
The young girl was brutally stabbed nine times in her bad in her family’s Escondido home. She collapsed and died in her bedroom doorway, and her bloodied body was discovered on Jan. 21, 1998.
In 2004, Tuite – a transient seen in the Crowe family’s neighborhood around the time of Stephanie’s murder – was convicted in the death of the girl. Investigators said witnesses had reported seeing Tuite walking through the Escondido neighborhood, entering homes through unlocked doors.
In 2012, a federal appeals court voided Tuite’s conviction and ordered a new trial, which began in San Diego this past October.
During the retrial, jurors heard from many of Stephanie Crowe’s family members including her mother, Cheryl Crowe, her sister Shannon Dehesa, and her brother, Michael Crowe.
Michael was initially arrested in and charged in his sister’s murder. His friends, Aaron Houser and Joshua Treadway, were also initially deemed potential suspects.
A judge later threw out those charges levied against Michael and his friends, ruling they were based on coerced confessions of teenagers. Ultimately, Michael was ruled factually innocent in the case.
After Tuite was cleared in the Crowe case last week, Crowe's family expressed anger over the acquittal. Stephanie's mother, Cheryl Crowe, maintains that Tuite killed her daughter.
“I’m sure [the jury] will regret their verdict once he kills somebody else. It’s only a matter of time. So lock your doors," she warned on Dec. 6 during an interview with NBC 7. “He’s already killed my daughter. It’s just a matter of time before he does it to someone else’s child.”
Tuite's attorney, Brad Patton, said Tuite was pleased with the not guilty verdict. Tuite spent nearly nine years behind bars for the killing of Crowe, and Patton said his client was ready to reunite with his family and live a normal life.