The man convicted in the 1998 murder of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe has been granted a new trial.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel a reversed an earlier decision by a judge in 2009 that denied Tuite a new trial.
The case began on the morning of Jan. 21, 1998, when the Crowes' grandmother found the dead girl in her Escondido bedroom.
Investigators quickly focused on Stephanie's brother, 14-year-old Michael Crowe, noting that their suspicion was aroused when they noticed him emotionlessly playing a handheld video game while the rest of the family grieved the morning his sister's body was discovered. Soon after, investigators implicated Michael's friends, Aaron Houser and Joshua Treadway.
The three boys were repeatedly interrogated over many hours until Crowe and Treadway confessed. A judge later found those confessions were made by scared teens worn down by what the appeals court described as "hours of grueling, psychologically abusive interrogation."
Escondido police turned over the investigation over to the sheriff's department.
In 2004, Richard Tuite was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced state prison.