Murder Investigation of 12-Year-Old
Spawns Police Reform Proposals
Defense Attorney Gives Insider's Perspective on
Coerced Confessions from Innocent Youths
February 1998: The small town of Escondido, California, reeled from the breaking news that not only had three teenage boys been charged with the murder of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe, but one of the boys was her 14-year-old brother, Michael. Stephanie had been brutally stabbed to death in her own bedroom — her lifeless body discovered by her grandmother on January 21.
The Escondido police had questioned Michael Crowe and two of his friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, during long hours of intense interrogation, without the presence of parental or legal representation. The detectives, despite being unable to find any physical evidence that could lead them to the killer, coaxed two of the three boys to "confess" to the crime.
February 2021: Donald E. McInnis releases his book, She's So Cold: The Stephanie Crowe Murder Case — A Defense Attorney's Inside Story, in which he makes his case for reforms in an effort to prevent this type of injustice from happening to others. She's So Cold guides the reader through the twists and turns of a gripping real-life mystery that changed forever the lives of fifteen people and cost the San Diego District Attorney his job.
In She's So Cold learn why:
- Three innocent teenage boys were to be tried as adults and faced being sentenced to life in prison.
- Police investigators use a well-known psychologically manipulative questioning process specifically designed to obtain confessions from suspects.
- Juvenile suspects confess to crimes they did not commit.
- A highly respected attorney has proposed reforms that will help to better inform juveniles and their parents of their rights in criminal investigations.
"I suffered from sleepless nights during and in the years following this case because of the injustice that nearly occurred due to police detectives and the district attorney intent on ‘getting a quick result.’ The saddest aspect is that this is not an isolated case. Every year, innocent youths confess to crimes they did not commit. I had to do something," says Donald E. McInnis, who represented Aaron Houser in the Stephanie Crowe murder case.
"That's why I have proposed a new Miranda warning specifically worded for juveniles, as well as a Children’s Bill of Rights. She’s So Cold is the story of a broken system. A system stacked against families and, most of all, against children."
His proposals are detailed in the book’s appendices, and are the subject of two law journal articles written by the author.
This second edition of She's So Cold has been revised and updated to highlight the relevancy of this case to current police and justice-system reform efforts and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Midwest Book Review: ". . . a powerful read. . . . Donald E. McInnis does an outstanding job of pinpointing the problems of juvenile prosecution methods. . . . No reader of true crime or juvenile rights should be without this outstanding book. . . . Law professors will find She’s So Cold holds much fodder for classroom discussion and debate."
Linda Starr, Executive Director and Clinical Professor of Law at the Northern California Innocence Project says, "It is unimaginable what our justice system does with juveniles. I hope the changes as you have suggested are made."
Release Date: February 11, 2021 ~ publisher: J&E Publications
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-7323-222-5-7 (second edition); distributor: Ingram
Kindle ebook ISBN: 978-1-7323-222-2-6 (second edition); distributor: Amazon
Epub ebook ISBN: 978-1-7323-222-6-4 (second edition); distributor: Ingram
- True Crime
- Criminal Law / Juvenile Offenders
Advance reader copies of the book are available for journalists and book reviewers.
The ebook version is currently available for pre-order online.
About the Author:
Donald E. McInnis is a criminal defense attorney who represented Aaron Houser in the Stephanie Crowe murder case. He has specialized as a litigator trying criminal and civil cases. During his four-decades-long legal career, Mr. McInnis has served on both the prosecution and defense sides of criminal law. He has also served as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem, been an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, and a referee/arbitrator for the California Superior Courts. Mr. McInnis lives in San Diego, California, and presses for reforms within the criminal justice system.