Convicted killer Steven Crittenden will have to wait until January to find out if he will get a new trial. The State Attorney General was to get a ruling this Friday from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on whether Crittenden will be retried for killing Dr. William and Katherine Chiapella in January of 1987. The decision to retry the now 46-year old was continued to January 2014.
In October, a Federal District Judge in Sacramento overturned Steven Crittenden's double murder conviction of the Chico doctor and his wife. Judge Kimberly Mueller faulted Butte County prosecutor, Jerry Flanagan's dismissal of the only African American in the jury pool.
Flanagan used a peremptory challenge to remove the juror because she was unequivocally opposed to the death penalty. The District Attorney at the time, Will Mattly, was seeking the death penalty in this case.
On the chilly morning of January 13, 1987, 67-year old Dr. William Chiapella and his 66-year old wife, Katherine, were found bound and gagged in their Downing Avenue home by their son. The couple had been stabbed multiple times and tortured before their death.
Chico Police determined the motive to be money. Crittenden, a Chico State Sudent at the time, had responded to a posting on a job board at the University for yard work at the Chiapella home three months prior to their death. Evidence introduced at the trial was damaging. There were the specifically patterned sheets, a strawberry pattern, used to bound and gag the Chiapellas. The same patterned, matching sheets were found in Crittenden's Chico apartment. There was also a $3,000. check cashed by Crittenden and signed, under duress according to investigators, by Mrs. Chiapella. Crittenden claimed the money was from Mrs. Chiapella for sex. A shoe print was also found at the home matching Crittenden's shoes.
Crittenden is now 46 and has spent 24 years on San Quentin's death row.
The courts have asked for a continuance, so a ruling on whether Crittenden will be tried won't be decided until January 2014.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey says if 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upholds the Federal Judge's request for a new trial, he will retry the case.