A Calaveras County teenager found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his 8-year-old sister was sentenced Wednesday, and his attorney announced that he is appealing the conviction.
Mark Reichel said his client, 15-year-old Isiah Fowler, is to be held at a Department of Juvenile Justice facility to a maximum age of 23. He can apply for early release at age 22.
Fowler was 12 when his sister, Leila Fowler, was killed April 27, 2013. The youth told investigators that he encountered an attacker in the home. He was arrested days after his sister’s slaying.
Fowler’s father and stepmother have maintained that he is innocent, and they were in court Wednesday to support him, Reichel said.
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The attorney said he asked the court not to sentence Fowler to the Department of Juvenile Justice, arguing that holding someone accused of committing a crime at age 12 until the age of 23 violates the teen’s right to be free from unreasonable punishment.
Reichel said he filed an appeal Wednesday in Calaveras County Superior Court, and the case likely will be transferred to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.
“We won’t stop fighting for this young man,” Reichel said. “He’s innocent.”
Fowler was convicted Oct. 6 after three weeks of proceedings before Judge Thomas A. Smith. The youth did not face a jury trial because he was prosecuted as a juvenile.
Calaveras County District Attorney Barbara Yook argued that Fowler stabbed his sister 23 times before cleaning himself and then calling his parents about 45 minutes later regarding an intruder, according to published reports. The prosecutor also cited “inconsistent” statements to a 911 dispatcher.
Reichel has said the family believes an unknown assailant is behind the murder. The attorney argues that the attack on Leila occurred while Isiah Fowler was hiding in a bathroom right before the 911 call.