Michael Crowe pronouncement hearing set for Thursday

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The wrongfully accused brother of a slain 12-year-old
Escondido girl will ask a judge Thursday to make a formal pronouncement that he is
factually innocent.

Michael Crowe was 14 when he was arrested and charged for the stabbing
death of his younger sister, Stephanie, at the family home in Escondido on Jan.
20, 1998. His friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, then both 15, were
also charged in the killing.

Crowe, now 28, filed court documents last month saying he wanted a
hearing in front of a San Diego Superior Court judge, complete with testimony,
to get a formal judicial pronouncement of his innocence. The hearing —
expected to take two days — will get under way today in the courtroom of Judge
Kenneth So.

Attorney Milton Silverman said Crowe wanted the judicial finding to
clear his name and record.

Michael Crowe confessed to killing his sister, but that confession was
later ruled to have been coerced in harsh interrogations by Escondido police
detectives and an Oceanside police officer assisting them.

Later, DNA evidence connected Richard Tuite, a mentally ill transient
now in his early 40s, to the murder scene. He was subsequently convicted of
voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to prison, but that conviction was
overturned based on a trial error. He remains in custody, awaiting a new trial.

The families of all three boys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit
against the cities of Escondido and Oceanside in 1999, claiming they were
denied their rights against self-incrimination and false arrest. Key portions
were thrown out by a judge in 2004 and 2005, but in 2010 a panel of judges with
the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal reinstated the bulk of the case.

Last October, the Crowe family settled the suit for $7.25 million. At
the time, Crowe, who had moved to Oregon and was a first-time expectant father,
said no amount of money would undo what police had done to his family. His
mother told reporters the family was ready to move on and focus on the new

Treadway previously dropped out of the lawsuit and Houser settled
shortly before the Crowe family, but the terms of his settlement were not

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