The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Summer Stephan as interim District Attorney Tuesday.
After 14 years, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will step down in July, with 18 months still left on her fourth term.
Stephan, serving as the Chief Deputy District Attorney currently, will finish off Dumanis' term as the interim DA. She has filed papers to run for DA in the 2018 election as well.
"I'm just very grateful for the confidence and the trust that the Supervisors have put in me, all five of them, I really appreciate it," Stephan said. "I have the trust of my office, of victims, and law enforcement and the community and to add the trust of the Supervisors is very meaningful."
Tuesday afternoon, dozens packed into the meeting--most of them supporters of Stephan, which took the long-term prosecutor by surprise.
"It was pretty incredible," Stephan said. "To hear from all the victims, the Principal of Kelly Elementary, to see the outpouring of support from law enforcement, to hear from my own troops, it's amazing."
But her appointment was opposed by the family of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe, murdered in 1998. The Crowe family feels Stephan botched the homicide case against their daughter's suspected killer, leaving her family without justice.
Cheryl Crow, Stephanie's mother, made an emotional plea to the Board Tuesday, asking them not to appoint Stephan.
"My daughter Stephanie is in her grave. She was murdered. Her killer got away with it," she said. "I think it would have been a lot different had Summer Stephan not been assigned to the case."
Stephan responded to the family's criticism of her, saying she wants peace for them.
"I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child like that--a beautiful child," Stephan said. "She associates me with that case, with that pain, with the fact that there is not justice, and I just hope for peace for her."
During the meeting, former prosecutor Adam Gordon and another candidate for the position stated he should be the Board's pick for interim DA because he would not be running for the office in 2018.
"This isn't Mrs. Dumanis’ election. This is the people’s election," he told the Board.
The San Diego American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement in response to Stephan's appointment, which read, in part:
"The Board of Supervisors’ decision to appoint Ms. Stephan was made despite considerable urging by community groups, including the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, San Diego Organizing Project, Center on Policy Initiatives, Partners for Progress and The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, to appoint an interim district attorney who would pledge not to run for the office in 2018. At the heart of the matter is concern over the power of incumbency to tip the scale in favor of Ms. Stephan in the upcoming election – when as interim DA she has not been vetted and democratically elected by the voters of San Diego County."