Summer Stephan
District Attorney Summer Stephan. Official photo

Cheryl Crowe, mother of 12-year-old murder victim Stephanie Crowe, Friday urged voters to reject Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan, who is seeking her first elected term at the post.

Stephanie was found stabbed to death in her bedroom in 1998. Her brother, Michael, and two friends were charged with the killing.

Then deputy district attorney, Stephan became lead prosecutor against the three youths as the case went to trial.

The case fell apart, however, when Stephanie’s blood was found on the shirt of a transient seen in the Crowes’ Escondido neighborhood. Charges were dropped against Stephanie’s brother and friends. The transient, Richard Tuite, was tried and convicted, but the conviction was reversed and he was acquitted during a retrial. Ultimately, no one was imprisoned for the murder.

During a news conference Friday, Cheryl accused Stephan of coercing Michael into a false confession, and hiding evidence that proved his innocence. Cheryl said San Diego deserves a district attorney who can “do right in the name of justice,” and “help families, not hurt them.”

“All (Stephan) has to do is tell the truth and have some ethics. If we could have a DA who does that, things would be better,” Cheryl said.

Stephan will face Deputy Public Defender Genevieve Jones-Wright in Tuesday’s primary election. Jones-Wright’s campaign also recently criticized Stephan’s handling of the Crowe case in a video entitled “This Botched Murder Case Still Haunts San Diego.”

Cheryl said Jones-Wright didn’t ask her to speak out Friday, but she did endorse the candidate.

“She comes from a different place — she wants truth,” Cheryl said.

In June, Cheryl sent a 22-page letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors urging them to reject Stephan’s appointment as interim district attorney after her predecessor, Bonnie Dumanis, decided to step down from the post. Cheryl said Stephan lied about her role in the Escondido murder in a formal application to the supervisors.

In a statement, Stephan’s campaign said she exhibited proper procedure in the case.

“While we understand Mrs. Crowe’s anguish over her daughter’s murder, the fact is then-Deputy DA Stephan was dismissed from the Crowe lawsuit and found not to have done anything wrong. Those are the facts.”

–City News Service