Richard Tuite was back in court Tuesday. Although Tuite had already been found not guilty in his second trial for the death of Stephanie Crowe, he needed to be sentenced for unrelated charges. NBC 7’s Rory Devine has more.
Tuesday’s hearing was about other charges, including bribery and an escape from custody, and whether Tuite should be placed on parole or probation.
State officials believe Tuite should be sentenced separately for an escape from custody in 2004, during his original trial. At that time, Tuite walked away from the courthouse and boarded a transit bus, traveling from downtown San Diego to Clairemont before ultimately getting caught.
As for the bribery charge, Tuite allegedly bribed a jail guard by offering him $24,000 to help him escape.
Tuite’s attorney, Brad Patton, said Tuite was sentenced to seven years on the bribery count and eight months for the escape. He thinks his client should be credited for the time he’s already served, which is about nine years behind bars.
Now, it’s up to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to determine if that’s enough time to cover the bribery and escape charges, plus probation.
“They have to decide if a period of parole is appropriate or not, based on re-sentencing,” explained Patton. “If that’s the case, he may be transferred to Donovan [the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility] to be processed for purposes of parole.”
“It’s really just the administration modifying the records, taking a look at the total number of credits he gets while he is in custody and then looking at whether there is a period of parole left based on that calculation,” Patton added.
However, if the CDCR determines Tuite has served enough time, he will not be placed on parole and could be released from the downtown San Diego jail within five days.
Either way, parole or not, Patton said Tuite will be released and reunited with his family.
“His family will work on a transition process for him and right now, it’s a matter of getting him relocated and settled in, not having a lot of pressure. That transition will be made smoothly,” said Patton. “For Richard obviously going from the contained period he’s been in and back to his family is a big change. It’s a wonderful change, but it is a family change.”
On Friday, a jury found Tuite not guilty of the 1998 murder of Stephanie Crowe of Escondido. A federal appeals court had voided Tuite's original conviction and ordered a new trial, which began this past October in San Diego.
At the time of Stephanie Crowe’s murder, Tuite was a transient and was seen walking around the Crowe’s neighborhood.
Stephanie Crowe’s brother, Michael Crowe, and his two friends were the first suspects in the case. They confessed to murdering her, but a judge determined their confessions had been coerced.
Crowe's mother, Cheryl, maintains her belief that Tuite is her daughter's killer.