Wrongly accused seek exoneration in Crowe murder

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The attorney for a man who was wrongfully accused of
killing his 12-year-old sister began presenting testimony Thursday that he hopes
will convince a judge to formally declare his client's innocence.

Michael Crowe was 14 when he was arrested and charged with the stabbing
death of his 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. Treadway has joined in the motion for a finding of
factual innocence.

Attorney Milton Silverman said Crowe, now 28, wants the judicial finding
to clear his name and record.

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.

Treadway's attorney, Mary Ellen Attridge, testified today that Treadway
told her his “confession” was false.

Attridge said prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office at one
point offered to dismiss the charges against her client if he would testify
against Michael Crowe, which Treadway said he would never do.

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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