Murder case revived

Man convicted of 1987 double-murder in Chico set for retrial

The case of Steven Edward Crittenden, a former Chico State student sentenced to death in 1989 for the double-murder of Dr. William and Katherine Chiapella, has new life.

In January 1987, the couple were found dead in their home on Downing Avenue; they'd been bound, gagged and bludgeoned, as well as stabbed multiple times. Gerald Flanagan, the Butte County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, dismissed the lone black person in the jury pool because she opposed the death penalty. Subsequently, an all-white jury found Crittenden (pictured) guilty of murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death.

In October 2013, a federal judge ordered a new trial for Crittenden, now 48, ruling that racism was a “substantial” factor in the black juror's dismissal. On Monday, Oct. 26, a federal appellate panel upheld that decision, according to online court records, ordering Butte County to retry Crittenden.