steven crittenden

Steven Crittenden, the Chico State Student Who Murdered William and Katherine Chiapella in 1987, Was Found Not Guilty

As soon as he lost his campus job, Crittenden found himself struggling financially. To aid them financially, he began calling the Chiapellas daily in hopes that one might answer at home.

Under an agreement brokered by his lawyers, he pled guilty to the 1987 murders of the Chico couple and will serve a 63 years-to-life term in Placer County. Any credit for time served until 2015 will be waived; eligibility for parole won’t occur until 2035.

Early Life and Education

Steven Crittenden was found guilty in 1989 for murdering well-known Chico doctors William and Katherine Chiapella during a burglary and robbery at their Downing Avenue home on Downing Avenue. Although sentenced to death, this verdict was reversed after federal courts found that original prosecutor Gerald Flanagan excluded one prospective black juror during jury selection; later confirmed by the 9th U.S.C Court of Appeals in 2015.

Cris Crittenden, 53, entered into a plea bargain with District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s prosecution to plead guilty Friday in Placer County Superior Court in Roseville and was sentenced to 63 years to life without the possibility of parole until 2035. Joseph Chiapella discovered his parents dead when he arrived home on Jan 13 and testified that mail strewn across the floor had drawn his attention immediately upon entry to their house.

Professional Career

Crittenden was an all-state player for Murray State Racers basketball team as well as being part of their 1952 Kentucky state championship squad.

After receiving his degree, Crittenden began working as an operating engineer at Hewlett-Packard in Cupertino as heavy equipment operating engineer; later being promoted to senior engineer status.

While in prison for his murders, Chiapella attempted to escape several times – kidnapping a local resident to drive him to Sacramento but being recaptured; killing a guard in order to gain entry; kidnapping another local resident to drive them there before being recaptured again; as well as trying to kill guards in an attempt to free himself from cell. Eventually convicted and sentenced to 63 life terms without possibility of parole until 2035 with one letter being written as part of this punishment which could be used against him should he ever attempted to deny charges or attempted denial in future hearings.

Achievement and Honors

Mrs Hill recognized Steve Crittenden needed more challenging opportunities, so she asked his school to allow him to skip two grades. At his new school, however, it proved more challenging for him to integrate and frequent fights broke out among his classmates.

He has served on the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Executive Committee and as campus dean at Vermillion Community College and Northland Community & Technical College; also holding multiple leadership roles at Anoka-Ramsey Community College where he held multiple roles over time. With both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human services and educational leadership respectively, and numerous awards for his higher education work under his belt, he currently acts as interim Vice President for Academics & Student Affairs of his current college.

Personal Life

ROSEVILLE — After nearly 30 years of national attention and widespread speculation about Steven Crittenden’s murder of an influential couple at their Roseville home in 1987, his case came to a satisfying close Friday when he plead guilty in Placer County Superior Court and received a sentence of 63 years to life without credit for time served, deferring parole hearing until 2035.

During the trial, members of the Chiapella family read victim impact statements directly to Crittenden and addressed him directly as he looked straight ahead while listening. Joseph Chiapella recounted to the court how he discovered his parents dead when he opened their front door and saw mail scattered on the floor; their bodies had been stabbed multiple times with knives as well as hit by an extinguisher.

Net Worth

Crittenden was charged with murdering doctors William and Katherine Chiapella of Chico during a home burglary and robbery on April 27, 1987, during a home burglary and robbery attempt at their Chico residence. In 1987 he was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder as well as kidnapping, kidnapping with intent, escaping jail while waiting trial, escaping while still on trial in 1988, and trying to flee prison on September 26th of that same year.

Family members delivered heartbreaking statements during the hearing, recalling what Crittenden had taken from them by way of loved ones who died and making demands to never release him from custody; further criticizing his letter which they felt did not show true remorse for their losses. Following these pleas from family members and other witnesses, a judge sentenced Crittenden to 63 years-to-life instead of death and waived credit for time served until 2015. His parole hearing will not occur until 2035.

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