Crittenden retrial out of county

Local judge keeps double-murder case in Placer instead of Butte

Steven Crittenden’s retrial for double-murder charges will take place in Placer County, the site of his first trial, after a local judge decided media coverage would impede a fair trial in Butte County.

Superior Court Judge Tamara Mosbarger ruled last Thursday (Jan. 17) that local reporting on the 32-year-old crime has been sufficiently provocative and persistent to influence a wide pool of potential jurors. Similar rationale prompted the original trial’s change of venue.

Crittenden (pictured) was convicted of killing a Chico couple, Dr. William Chiapella and Katherine Chiapella, in January 1987, when he was a 19-year-old Chico State student-athlete. Crittenden was sentenced to death, but a federal judge in 2013 cited racial bias in the prosecutor’s exclusion of a black juror.

Crittenden, 51, has remained in custody awaiting the new trial.