Judge rules brother's rights were not violated in Leila Fowler murder case

SAN ANDREAS - The judge in the Leila Fowler murder case said her brother's rights were not violated during five interviews by sheriff's investigators without a defense attorney present.

A two-day hearing prompted by Isaiah Fowler's defense team led to Judge Thomas A. Smith refusing to suppress statements made by the boy before he was arrested.

Isaiah, 12 at the time, was the only other person at the family's house in Valley Springs when Leila was stabbed to death on April 27, 2013.

His attorneys said the tone of the interviews quickly shifted from detectives considering Isaiah a witness to them believing he was the killer.

And during the two-week period leading up to Isaiah's arrest, the attorneys said Barney Fowler was put in the nearly impossible position of being his son's guardian, while trying to find out who killed his daughter.

"This is extremely rare that this happens, and it's not appropriate because it leaves the 12 year old -- the main suspect in a homicide case -- completely on his own," attorney Mark Reichel said.

Reichel and his law partner Steve Plesser said that during the fifth and final interview, Barney Fowler acted as an agent of the law during the interrogation, which led to a vague confession from his son.

"He expressed some confusion and said, 'Well, if I did something I don't remember it. But I didn't do it.' And that's what the prosecution has chosen to view as a confession, and it's clearly not," Plesser said.

Calaveras County District Attorney Barbara Yook declined to comment as she left the courthouse.

Reichel believes if the judge had ruled in their favor, the case against Isaiah Fowler would have crumbled.

The trial is set to begin Aug. 12.


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